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You Will Never, Ever Receive ANYTHING - money, products, gift certificates - for forwarding email.  You will never help a sick child by forwarding email.  You will only make your friends and family members mad and look foolish in the process. 

Forwarding email will accomplish nothing.  No products, no gift certificates, no funny stuff will appear on your computer and no sick child will be helped by forwarding email.  I'm sure these have been a source of much laughter for those who designed them.  Perhaps it really makes their day thinking of the thousands of people wasting their time on this. Then again,  perhaps they need to get a life.  Remember that any message that promises something (money, certificates, screen pop-ups) for forwarding, is a complete hoax.

There is another bad side to this as well.  When real companies are named, these things become major headaches for them.  They must put disclaimers on their sites and answer phone calls about the hoax.  Microsoft, Intel, AOL, Nike, Coca Cola, Victoria's Secret, Old Navy and more would like to see this stuff go away, because they've all been targets.  So, this all ends up hurting someone and wasting their time.  It has become a "false witness."

All of this being said, I will not deal with each message (and there are many) with exception to the mother of all messages - the Bill Gates/Microsoft message.  Following is a list of companies that have messages claiming that you will get something free for forwarding email.  Messages about helping sick or dying children are dealt with in the PLEAS FOR HELP section.

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Noika

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Victoria's Secret

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Cracker Barrel

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The Gap

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Delta

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Ericcson

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Applebee's

 

Bill Gates Is Sharing His Fortune (NOT!).  Gates, Microsoft and AOL (??) Will Send You Money For Forwards - FAKE, FALSE, HOAX!!

NOTE: No matter how hard you try to tell some folks that it is a complete and utter hoax, they won't believe.  Over the years I've had many requests, especially from those outside the U.S., who write to me asking for money from Bill Gates. I used to write back and try to convey to them that they need to read my article and that they are responding to a hoax.  Most replies indicate that they are simply incapable of understanding this concept and they still ask for money from Bill Gates.  I just had to quit trying to answer these.

 

Before we take the message apart piece by piece, let's examine whether this kind of email tracking is possible or not.  The fact is that the kind of tracking scheme promoted here is not possible.  The internet is not a single hub computer, but hundreds of servers set all over the world.  Let's say you have AOL as your ISP.  You send an email to ten people, none of whom are AOL subscribers.  Ten emails leave your server and travel to let's say 6 other servers around the globe.  Now, AOL can track that.  However, three of your recipients decide to send the message on to 10 others each.  Those three are not using the AOL server, but three other servers.  While AOL could track your message, it cannot track what these other three people did, and so on and so on.  

 

One more thing to look at before taking the message apart is how much money are we really talking about here?  Remember that in the message you are to get $245.00 dollars for each person you forward to and another $243.00 for each person THEY forward it to (as well as the $245.00 they will get for the forward). Suppose that you sent it on to only 5 people, and those 5 to 5 each, and so on.  In just the course of probably one hour, Bill Gates would have to shell out $1,225 just on your 1st generation, not to mention the thousands of other people who will do the same thing.  Next, you receive $6,075 for the second generation (5 X 5 - $243.00 for everyone that gets it in the 2nd generation).  The third generation will net you $30,125 (25 X 5 X $241.00). In one day, you would have $37,425.  Now, in one day, imagine that each one of these people get the same thing.  There are now 25 people involved from just your forward = $935,625, almost 1 Million dollars.  Next, put hundreds of people into one day of forwarding.  Let's be cautious and say that just 100 people get it and forward it in one day = $3,012,500 (that is the 100 forward it to 5 each and they to 5 each).   That's only about 3 million dollars.  Now, take that times the years the message has been out.  As you can see, even Bill Gates doesn't have enough money to fund this for even one week for even one participant.

 

The figures above were just what I figured out. A mathematician by the name of Simon Nance wrote me with these figures on just how much it would cost to carry out this scheme:

If the message propagates at an exponential rate (lets use a power of 6, since that is a good general base for new population growth in most real-world systems) the number of origin messages needing to be tracked after 6 power iterations (that is 1 person sends to 6 people, each sends to 6 more, etc. over six intervals = 6*(6^2)*(6^3)*(6^4)*(6^5)) is 470,184,984,576 messages.  Lets say a day of emailing is slow so that you can only get six iterations per day, that means that since the original message was forwarded to me on Nov 25th at 11:40PM (which wasn't even a message from Intel/AOL) about 4 days have past.  This means that AOL/Intel is tracking 24 iterations of email messages sent which equals 6^(24!) or 6^620,448,401,733,239,000,000,000 (i.e. 6 times itself 620 zetaillion - times) messages.  But the original message text says that "Pearlas Sanborn's brother's girlfriend got into this a few months ago."  Let's assume a few months is three months - Sept, Oct, Nov - 89 Days.  That's 6^(89!) or six to the power of 165,079,551,609,085 times 10 to the 122 power messages. Lets just calculate the cost to AOL/Intel to pay $203.15 for each of these messages, shall we? That's $1,218.90 to the power of (201,215,465,456,314,000 times 10 to the 122 power) - more money than has ever been printed by the US Mint. I don't think we need to calculate the $156.29 and $17.65 for 2nd and 3rd respective message recipients to know this is a total B.S. Forward, but let's do it for fun: the 2nd recipient removes one iteration from the total series, leaving us with 6^(88!) times $156.29 and third recipients cost Intel/AOL $17.65 times 6^(87!).  The grand total since September would be close to $226 Billion times 3.5 googol (a googol being a 1 with 100 zeros behind it).

 

According to the above figures, this would cost more money than has ever even been printed by the U.S. Mint! Now, it has hopefully been proven that the premise of the message is an absolute impossibility.  Let's look at the ridiculous statements in the rest of it.

 

(1) No attorney is ignorant of the fact that a class action lawsuit is a group of people suing a company.  PepsiCo cannot file a class action lawsuit against General Electric.  Most versions of this message over the many years I've been answering it include the name of the supposed attorney as Perlas Sanborne.  The writer of the email says she's a friend.  If she's not your friend, please stop forwarding the email.

 

(2)  AOL and Intel have made no promises to anyone about anything. Of course, these days AOL is dying.  Maybe in the latest versions AOL is omitted.  AOL was a major internet provider in the days when this was first written.  Where does Intel come into this?  They are not mentioned again until the end of the hoax message.  The only reason their name is on here is that the original version of the message had AOL and Intel merging.  Some versions still contain this.  They are not merging.  Intel is not an internet company.  They make computer processors.  What would be their interest in this scheme? 

 

(3) AOL was, when this was written, the internet rival to Microsoft.  They owned Netscape, which was at one time the rival to MS's Internet Explorer.  They have absolutely no interest in ensuring that IE remains "the most widely used program."   They wished it were just the opposite.  IE squashed Netscape.  The code was rescued and became what we now know to be Firefox (my browser of choice).   AOL was rival to Microsoft's MSN network.  Does anyone in their right mind really believe that AOL was or is going to cooperate to make Microsoft look good on anything?

 

(4) Notice that the girl who supposedly received a check showed it to her friend (the one supposedly writing the message).  Why didn't she cash it?  I would! That's a lot of money to be hanging on to.  Why would she cart a check that big around?  Also, she could not have seen "paid in full" stamped on it.  There wouldn't be any stamps on the check until she cashed it, then she would never see it again.  I've never seen a check that was pre-stamped "paid in full."  In fact, I've never seen a check with any such wording. Who would bother and why? 

(5) "What have you got to lose?"  says the end of the message.  Mostly, you'll simply gain a reputation as gullible among your friends and family and irritate the rest for wasting their time with junk mail.

(6) Some versions say something to the effect that we're not going to help them with their beta test for nothing.  Of course, there is no software beta testing going on here, but one should think about that statement.  Really?  When was the last time you were paid to beta test software?  Beta tests of software are your choice.  Most of the time, its the computer geeks who test out the software for bugs before the public gets it.  You have to be willing to volunteer.  They don't need you, so if you demand payment for helping they'll just tell you to take a hike.

The upshot is that there isn't a single sentence in this message that makes any sense. There is another bad side to it as well.  When real companies are named, these things become major headaches for them.  They must put disclaimers on their sites and answer phone calls about the hoax.  Microsoft, Intel, AOL, Nike, Coca Cola, Victoria's Secret, Old Navy and more would like to see this stuff go away, because they've all been targets.  So, this all ends up hurting someone and wasting their time.  It has become a "false witness."

ORIGINAL MESSAGE VERSION 1:

Dear Friends:

Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates is sharing his fortune. If you ignore this you will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.  When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a cheque. 
Regards. 
Chinu! I thought this was a scam myself, but two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on, Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a cheque for US$24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this Bill Gates is the man. It's all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. You are bound to get at least US$10,000.00.

 

Second Incarnation:

Subject: Fw: PLEASE READ!!!!!! it was on the news!
OK....let's see if this is for real...... It would be nice!

To all of my friends, I do not usually  forward messages, but this is from my good friend Pearlas  Sanborn and she really is an attorney. If she says that this  will work - it WILL work. After all, what have you got to  lose?

SORRY EVERYBODY.....JUST HAD TO TAKE THE CHANCE!!! I'm an  attorney, and I know the law. This thing is for real.  Rest  assured AOL and Intel will follow through with their promises  for fear of facing a multimillion dollar class action suit  similar to the one filed by PepsiCo against General Electric  not too long ago.

Dear Friends,
Please do not take this for a junk  letter. Bill Gates is sharing his fortune. If you ignore this  you will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest  Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet  Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and  AOL are running an e-mail beta test.  When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user)  for a two week time period. For every person that you forward  this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every  person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will  pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will  contact you for your address and then send you a  cheque.

Regards.
Charles S. Bailey

I thought this  was a scam myself, but two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on, Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a cheque for US$24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this Bill Gates is the man.  It's all  marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many  people as possible.  You are bound to get at least  US$10,000.00.  We're not going to help them out with  their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time. My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months  ago. When I went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game.  She showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4,324.44 and was stamped "Paid In Full". Like I said before, I know the law, and this is for real.

Intel and AOL are now discussing a merger which would make them the largest Internet company and in an effort  make sure that AOL remains the most widely used program, Intel and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.

When you  forward this e-mail to friends, Intel can and will track it  (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time  period.  For every person that you forward  this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $203.15. For every person that you sent it to that  forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $156.29.  And for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $17.65. Within two weeks, Intel will contact you for your address and then send you a  check. I thought this was a scam myself, but a friend of my good friend's Aunt Patricia, who works at Intel, actually got a check of $4,543.23 by forwarding this  e-mail.

Try it, what have  you got to lose???

 

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