Chain letter

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The chain letter is an American invention, though chain letters have been active in many other countries as well. We will look at the definition of the chain letter, where it comes from and some examples of the term’s use in sentences.

A chain letter is a letter that exhorts the recipient to make copies of the letter and send it to several friends in order not to break the “chain”. The penalty for breaking the “chain” of correspondence is usually outlined in the letter with dark warnings of bad luck. The recipient of the chain letter sends something to the person at the top of a list of names included in the letter, and adds his own name to the bottom of the list. Some chain letters ask the recipient to send money, some chain letters ask for a postcard or a recipe. If everyone who receives a chain letter follows the instructions in the letter, then the recipient will receive a great amount of whatever the letter is asking for. This is a pyramid scheme. Chain letters that ask for money are illegal in most places. The first chain letter originated as a fundraiser for a Methodist church in Chicago in the 1880s, it solicited a dime from each recipient in order to pay off church debt. Today, chain letters sent by post have dwindled, though the chain letter lives on in spam emails.


Check with BBB, the Post Office or law enforcement before becoming involved in a chain letter by mail, email or social media, especially if it involves money or gifts. (The Effingham Daily News)

At its core, the Secret Sister Gift Exchange is nothing more than an old-fashioned pyramid and chain letter scheme, gift-wrapped as a new, and fun social media idea. (The Topeka Capitol-Journal)