Chain letters are a type of pyramid scheme that is spread through the post, or sometimes by email. They promise a large financial return for a relatively small cost.
Typically, the letter will ask you to send a small amount of money to everyone listed in the letter. You then put your name on the list and send out copies of the letter to as many people as you can. The letter claims that by doing this, you will receive a large amount of money in a short space of time.
These schemes are illegal and are a type of pyramid scheme. The only people who have any real chance to make money are the people who start the scam. Scammers often send out many thousands of letters to people using mailing lists that they have bought off another company.
In a chain letter scam you lose your money in two ways. First—you send money to the scammers who sent you the letter. Second— you waste a lot of money on postage and photocopying costs.
Chain letters promise huge returns or tell you that not participating will bring you bad luck. Don’t let these claims blind you to the fact that chain letters are pure scams. Even if you thought you could make money, would you want to do it by scamming other people who would then have your address?
If you have received a chain letter your best response is to throw it out. You will only be wasting your time and money by forwarding it on to other people. If you do forward it on to your friends and relatives, they will probably be angry when they quickly realise it is a scam.