I got a letter in my mail that looked like it was from an actual person. If it weren't for the fact that it was addressed to "Erin Martaindale OR (CURRENT RESIDENT)", I wouldn't have known otherwise and just marked it as "Return to Sender". I thought about doing that anyway, but after talking with Brook, we figured we'd open it and see what was so important that Mr. Walter H. Elder needed to send anyone who could listen. My first thought was "chain letter", but it turned out to be a bit more than just that.
"MAKE $250,000 IN WEEKS!!!" doesn't scream scam to me, which is good because that's how the letter started. Apparently, it's even been proven effective and legal by Oprah, 20/20, and highly respected TV and Radio programs. I just don't know why we aren't all making $250k every week right now. Honestly, I've had far more convincing spam by people with no command for the english language.
Of course, there's an attached personal letter as well. What's particularly interesting to me is that the letter isn't even internally consistent. It starts off "Dear Friend, Greetings! I am a mortage banker," but towards the end, "At the time I first tried the ideas, I was earning a good living as a lawyer. But everyone in the legal profession will tell you there is a lot of stress that comes with the job. I decided to try the letter again...Three months later I had totaled $2,341,178!!!" So, he was a lawyer that wanted to retire, but instead of doing that after earning over $2 million by sitting on his ass sending out form letters to people, he went on to pursue his true love, mortage banking. My "friend" goes on to give reasons why you wouldn't take advantage of this program, which include: people don't think it will work, people will be ashamed for trying, people like to dream about making money but do nothing to achieve it, and people are "just plain lazy". I think the first two are dead on par for me, but I'd also like to add that this probably funds terrorists, drug dealers, spammers, or other sorts of people that make me actually want the death penalty (which, btw, I'm actually against).
"BUT HOW DOES IT WORK?" you ask. You send $1 to everyone on the list enclosed with a note saying, "Please add me to your mailing list." You see, adding someone to your mailing list is a service and you can charge whatever you want for it. That's apparently what makes it legal. Interestingly, they cite various laws, which, when you read the text, demonstrate the illegality of participating in the scheme and then theres the fact that simply selling something doesn't make what your doing legal (e.g. prostitution, murder, gambling services, nuclear weaponry). Then you make copies of the list, following their explicit instructions which involve adding your name to the #6 spot. You can get addresses for people from listed mailing-list companies. You need to mail at least 200 letters for this to work because you can expect 15 out of 200 people to respond with $1. Then those 15 people will each mail 200 people and that'll mean another 225 people will send you $1. And so on. I realize this is complicated, so here's a diagram:
Remember though, they already stated, "THIS IS NOT A PYRAMID SCAM!!"
As a part of this, I found out that USPS has an online mail fraud complaint form. Needless to say, I've submitted a complaint and I'm soooo making use of this more often.