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TUCoPS :: Scams :: uspschn.txt

The U.S. Post Office on chain letters




Newsgroups: alt.2600
Subject: Re(2): $$ Quick Income $$
Date: Tue Jun 13 15:11:33 1995

June 13, 1995
I have just received a copy of "A Survey of the Mail Fraud Act" and "Crime
Prevention TIP SHEET" from the U.S. Postal Service, as a result of my having
showed them copies of the "Dave Rhodes" letter posted on the Internet and
various local BBSes. I am saving the printed copy, which has a Post Office
Inspector's badge printed on it, if anyone wants to make personal arrangements
with me to see it. The currently circulating letter says to look at sections
1302 and 1341 of the lottery laws, which I will include here after the tip
sheet, with an added bonus, section 1343.
This is what the tip sheet says (this is word for word  from the bulletin,
page 1 of 3 pages):

                               Crime Prevention
                                       TIP SHEET

                                          CHAIN LETTERS

A chain letter is a "get rich quick" scheme which promises you'll make lots of
money if you don't break the chain and participate by sending copies of the
letter to a specified number of people. A typical chain letter requires you to
send money to the person whose name appears at the top of a list of several
names. You then eliminate that name and add yours to the bottom of the list,
reproduce the letter, and mail copies to the specified number of other people.
The letter promises that if they follow the same procedure, your name will
gradually move to the top of the list and you'll receive money -- lots of it.

Sending chain letters is illegal if they request money, bonds, books, or other
items of value, and promise a substantial return to the participants. Chain
letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or
delivering them in person, but sending the money through the mail) violates
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute. (The
courts have ruled that chain letters that ask for items of minor value, like
picture postcards or recipes, are mailable, since such items don't constitute
things of value within the meaning of the law.)

What if you decide to ignore the law? You expose yourself to a visit from the
Postal Inspection Service by participating in a chain-letter scheme. The main
thing to remember is that the chain letter is simply a bad investment. You
certainly won't get rich. You will receive little or no money. The few dollars
you may get will probably not be as much as you spend making copies of the
letter.

Do not be fooled if the chain letter is used to sell inexpensive reports on
credit, mail order sales, mailing lists, or other topics. The primary purpose
is to take your money, not to sell information. Selling a product does not
insure legality. Be doubly suspicious if there's a claim the post office or
postal inspection service has stated the letter is legal. This is said only to
mislead you.

Chain letters don't work because the promise that all participants in a chain
letter will be winners is mathematically impossible. Also, many people
participate, but do not send the money to the person at the top of the list.
And others create a chain letter which lists their names numerous times (in
various forms with different addresses).

Participating in a chain letter is a losing proposition. Save your money by
ignoring the temptation. Instead, turn over any chain letter you receive that
asks for money or other items of value to your local postmaster or the nearest
postal inspector.
_______________________________________________
                    United States Postal Inspection Service

And now the moment you've been waiting for: 
The laws themselves (sections 1302 and 1341, with a bonus, section 1343):

1302.  Mailing lottery tickets or related matter
   Whoever knowingly deposits in the mail, or sends or delivers by mail:
   Any letter, package, postal card, or circular concerning any lottery, gift
enterprise, or similar scheme offering prizes dependent in whole or in part
upon lot or chance;
   Any lottery ticket or part thereof, or paper, certificate, !
purporting to be or represent a ticket, chance, share or interest in or
dependent upon the event of a lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme
offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance;
   Any check, draft, bill, money, postal note or money order, for the purchase
of any ticket or part thereof, or of any share or chance in any such lottery,
gift enterprise or scheme;
   Any newspaper, circular, pamphlet or publication of any kind containing any
advertisement of any lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme of any kind offering
prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or containing any
list of the prizes drawn or awarded by means of any such lottery, gift
enterprise, or scheme, whether said list contains any part or all of such
prizes;
   Any article described in section 1953 of this title--
   Shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than two years,
or both; and for any subsequent offense shall be imprisoned not more than five
years.
1341.  Frauds and swindles
   Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to
defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent
pretenses, representations, or promises to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange,
alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use
any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or
anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or
spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or
attempting to do so, places in any post office or authorized depository for
mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the
Postal Service, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or
knowingly causes to be delivered by mail according to the direction thereon,
or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom
it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined not more than $1,000
or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
1343.Fraud by wire, radio or television
   Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to
defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent
pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted
by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign
commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures or sounds  for the purpose of
executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or
imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


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