This article is from the Scouting FAQ, by Bill Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org, Soaring Golden Eagle email@example.com and Alan Houser firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Date: Dec 21 1999
The following are guidelines for US citizens. Other countries
may have similar laws.
Many people post chain letters or other fraudulent solicitations
to newsgroups or send them via e-mail.
Often they claim that their letters are legal because they are selling
a product (such as a recipe) or because the initial solicitation isn't
sent through the US mail. Well, the United States Postal Service has a
very different opinion. According to the USPS all such letters, no
matter how they're sent, are illegal. Please go to the web page
at http://www.fraud.org and report their actions.
In many states, it is illegal to send chain e-letters and SPAM, and if you are caught,
there is a fine and/or jail time for EACH COPY which was sent from your account. For
example, if you are caught sending SPAM in Virginia, you can be fined up to
$500 (IIRC) for each copy which was sent from your account. Sending only 10
copies can result in a $5000 fine. In many areas, if you are sending
to a mailing list and include instructions on
how to be removed from the mailing list it is not SPAM.
Do not post a reply to fraudulent posts. If you would like to respond
to a chain letter, reply to the person directly. Perpetuating a chain
letter can result in your Internet access being revoked by your service
By the way, the "Make Money Fast" type chain letters are cancelled
when system operators see them, you do not need to reply to them.
They will be deleted in due time.