Home > Superstitions > Chain Letters

Chain Letters

By: Chris Welsh - Updated: 4 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Chain Mail Email Chain Email Chain Mail

“Do you need a little luck? Who doesn’t? Today is your lucky day! Copy this letter word for word, and send it on to ten people you know, and you will experience life changing luck within 48 hours! It works, trust me!” So reads a typical chain letter, one of the few superstition based schemes that worked so well that- when it comes to money- it is deemed illegal in many countries.

The Chain Letter Superstition

Here is how it works- you open a letter and find a promise, and often a threat in one neat package. This letter promises you love, money, luck, friendship, and asks you to do one simple thing- pass it on. If you don’t, however, you will wind up with the opposite of what you seek. Bad luck will befall you, because you dared to break the chain. Such is the typical chain letter, something that has ranges from an annoyance to an outright scam in some cases.

Types of Chain Letters

The most common chain letter is one that claims good luck follows those who follow the chain. In most cases bad luck will befall those who break the chain- this is sometimes only hinted at, sometimes spelled out in plain language. Sometimes “luck” is substituted with “prayer” or “blessings”, but the basic formula remains the same. The author of the letter relates how they received their copy, followed the rules, and was blessed with good fortune of one stripe or another. This same person knows some else who did not follow the instructions, broke the chain, and was visited with misfortune.

Another very common type is the pyramid scheme letter. The same concept applies- that good will come to the recipient of this letter if they simply follow instructions- but this time that good fortune is in the form of an actual fortune. The most common form of these money pyramid scheme letters works like this; there is a list of five names, and you are supposed to send money to the person at the top, then copy the list, removing the top person, and add your name at the bottom. The idea is that by the time your name reaches the top the number of people in the chain will have increased exponentially and the money you sent out will be returned to you many fold.

If that sounds a little fishy, you are not alone. In many cases sending a request for money that is supposed to result in great rewards is strictly illegal, and for good reason. There are a host of reasons why such a scheme would not work, starting with the uncertain honesty of the people who receive your letter. If they substitute their name for the top name and send it on, your name doesn’t move on the list—this could go on indefinitely, and you never receive your promised windfall.

Final Thoughts

Chain mails have moved on to the virtual realm in the form of emails. The speed and ease one can now send on chain mail is staggering, simply by a few clicks in their email client. Fortunately many of these are relatively harmless, but a word to the wise- there is no way that sending on an email to “x people in your contact list” can make an image or video appear on your screen.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Tina
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    For about 6 months i kept seeing cats crossing the road whilst i was working in care in the cimmunity the cats were mostly black…
    1 April 2021
  • Sheena
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    So about a year ago I had two baby bird get in my room through the ceiling. I was in a shelter and the birds…
    28 November 2020
  • Boab
    Re: Where Does the Name Nylon Originate?
    I remember seeing a BBC documentary about Wallace Carothers, in which the New York-London idea was debunked. It seems…
    29 August 2020
  • Yvonne
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    Ive had a woidpecker. Pecking at my bedroom window. A few times in last couple wks. Then while i was camping…
    3 July 2020
  • Oskaras
    Re: Spilling Salt
    But if i throw some salt over my left shoulder and i get some under my nails, and then the salt falls out is it still considered bad luck? I ask…
    30 June 2020
  • Alex
    Re: Women on Board Ship - Bad Luck
    I'm 99% sure that the figurehead in the image at the top of this page is mine. It was attached to our 1930 wooden schooner but…
    21 June 2020
  • Sammy
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    I saw two maybe three black cats on my porch one stood in front of my door way as I was knocking to get in I had no key so I…
    25 May 2020
  • Kay Kay
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    A black cat came on my patio looked in my screen door at me and I made eye contact with it then it walked away. What does that…
    19 April 2020
  • Candice27
    Re: Spilling Salt
    However I would like you to contact me and I need more explanation I need to understand more things and if it’s your desire to help Someone please…
    5 March 2020
  • Mom3
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    Came on my front porch to a black cat lying in a broken chair not afraid of me or my kids at all ....is this bad
    19 November 2019