TUCoPS :: Scams :: rhodesfq.txt

Dave Rhodes "FAQ"/Flame

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To: brianm@*****************
Newsgroups: alt.sex.movies,alt.sex.stories,alt.sex.wanted
In-Reply-To: <2b72qq$3vp@agate.berkeley.edu>
References: <2b49cmINNj9g@emx.cc.utexas.edu> <1993Nov2.173725.23574@ultb.isc.rit
Organization: UTK/Physics Dept.

In article <2b72qq$3vp@agate.berkeley.edu> you write:
>  I've seen letters like this floating around for quite a while now, and
>I've heard them called frauds, scams, and pyramid schemes.  I've never
>answered one, and I've never posted one.  However, I am curious:  *Why* is
GOOD! You are thus not yet part of the problem (see below).

>it a fraud?  How is it a scheme?  It *seems* to sound real, although of
>course anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.
>  Is it because it's not a perfect world, and people don't do what
>they're supposed to?  I'm sorry, but every time one of these pops up,
>the same flames are raised, and the same letters to sysadmins are posted.
>And I'm just very curious about why.
>  Thanks....

Brian brian brian: think a moment on mathematics.
Say each letter says "send this to five of your friends". And everyone
does. Say each letter also says "send 1$ to the name at the top of this
list of five people", and everyone does; jerk #0 of course starts it off
with four fictitious people plus him at the bottom. Starting with jerk #0,
sending it, we have:
1st go-round: jerks #1-5; jerk #0 in 4th place on list (on these five's
sent-out letters)
2nd go-round: jerks #6-30; jerk #0 in 3rd place on list.
3rd go-round: jerks #31-155; jerk #0 in 2nd place on list.
4th go-round: jerks #156-780; jerk #0 in first place on list.
5th go-round: jerks #781-3905; jerk #0 gets $3125.
6th go-round: jerks #3906-19530; jerks #1-5 get $3125 each.
7th go-round: jerks #19531-97655; jerks #6-30 get $3125 each.
8th go-round: jerks #97656-488280; jerks #31-155 get $3125 each.

in about four more go-rounds (*assuming* every new jerk is a different
person), we reach the population of the US (~300,000,000 at last count);
about two more go-rounds after THAT, we reach the total population
of the Earth, at which point we start sending them via radio telescope
to Alpha Centauri. If you don't believe my figures, work them out for
yourself; they're just successive powers of five (and sum{1 to n} of 5^n
=(5^(n+1)-1)/4, as a handy shortcut).
Notice that a) the number of letters involved grows EXPONENTIALLY
(i.e., the Post Office gets flooded (and VERY angry) *extremely* fast)
and b) the number of people getting $3125 is always nearly 4000 times
*less* than the number of people mailing letters hither and yon.
The $3125 here gets replaced by # of $ to send * (# of letters to send
out to the power [# of names on the list]), for general chains;
the factor ~4000 gets replaced with ~ the number of people involved
at the time jerk #0 gets money.
Add in the practical facts that a) most people will not send the money;
b) most chain letters say to send out more than five copies; c) most
lists are longer than five names; d) there are chain letters around that
DON'T ask to send money, just more letters; and you get something that
the Post Office highly frowns on because it severely clogs their
workload, which takes money from MANY people and gives it to a lucky few,
and where only the people starting it up ever get ANYTHING...

It's a fraud because most of the people who are told they will get
$3125 (or whatever) by following these "few simple instructions"
will not (the letters that only promise good luck are frauds for
other reasons; think a moment...); it's a scam because only the people
that start it up might ever get anything out of it (other than a quick
visit from the Post Office cops and FBI [federal offense, you know]);
it's a scheme because most people don't (or can't) sit down for 2 minutes
with a pocket calculator to run some numbers thru it; it's called a
"pyramid" scheme for obvious reasons; and if everybody DID do what they
were supposed to in one of these things, the results would be
utterly catastrophic...

So yes, it is *far* too good to be true.

Suggested actions:
if you get a chain letter, either
a) take it down to your local Post Office and say "I got this
chain letter; here's the envelope it came in and here's the
letter". They will be overjoyed to take it from there.
or b) toss it, if you have not the energy to do a).
If you instead c) follow the instructions, you become liable
yourself - and remember, if you DON'T leave a readily followable
trail by including name, address, etc., in the letter - you *definitely*
won't get anything... :-)

if you get chain email, send a nice little note to
the former writer's sysop, utilizing said easily followable
trail... again, they will be thrilled to death to do *everything*
else required... sysops hate this sort of stuff even more, if
that's possible.

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