Chain Letters Their Hidden Agenda by Emilymohar

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           Chain Letters: Their Hidden Agenda

        Anybody that uses E-mail has, at some point or another, encountered a chain letter. Some people enjoy
        reading them, some forward them while others see it as an intrusive waste of time that does nothing more
        than clutter up their Inbox.

        Most chain letters have a hidden agenda, collecting valid E-mail addresses for the purpose of spamming.
        Chain letters are forwarded from person to person. Each time they are forwarded, they grow exponentially.
        They store a valuable commodity for spammers: E-mail addresses. If you have ever wondered how
        spammers got your E-mail address, despite the fact that only your closest friends and business associates
        have it, it's probably been taken from a chain letter header.

        Spammers receive chain letters too (and probably start many of them). They copy the list of the E-Mail
        addresses in the headers and use them to send spam. If you want to know how it works, look closely at the
        next chain letter you get and count the number of addresses it has been collecting as it makes its rounds. In
        the first header (the to: and cc: ), read the names. There are usually about 10-50 (depending on who sent it).
        People with larger E-mail social groups tend to forward E-mails to more recipients. This first group will
        have your name on it because it has been forwarded to you. Now, scroll down and look at the chain mail's
        history. You will see many headers, and on each header you will see a list of people who have been copied.

         Here's an example: You start a chain letter and send it to 100
         people. If 10% of those people (10 people) forward it
         another 100 people, you now have 1,100 emails floating
         around. If 10% of those 1,100 people (or 110 people) send it
         to another 100 people, then you have 11,000 emails floating
         around. That's a lot of E-mail addresses for a spammer to
         collect. Our example has only 2 forwards but sadly enough,
         many chain letters are forwarded hundreds of times and
         millions of E-mail address are collected by spammers.

         Even if you don't forward chain mails, the fact that you are
         receiving them puts you at risk of having your E-mail
         address used for spamming purposes. So the next time your
         friend or co-worker send you a chain mail, let them know
         that they are putting you (and countless others) at risk.




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