A dear friend sent me an e-mail telling me if I forwarded this to just 9 friends, Applebees would send me a 50 dollar gift certificate. Poor trusting thing got snoogered on this one like some tens of thousands before her. PT Barnum knew whereof he spoke.
But I would disagree with Barnum on one thing. It's not a sucker that's born every minute. Okay maybe every other minute, but it's not just the greedy and self-seeking that are easy prey to con-men and frauds. It's also the innocent and trusting as well and I say, "Shame on anyone who would take advantage of a trusting person." It's a vile thing to do and you should develop a rash for treating a nice person like that.
As you've probably guessed, the Applebees 50 dollar gift certification confirmation number e-mail doesn’t work (It's appended below without everybody’s e-mail addresses just in case). Somebody is trying to see how many people they can fool into forwarding this e-mail.
Here are some ways you can tell when you’re being hood-winked on one of these.
1. Logic - There is no way for Applebees to confirm that you sent the requisite e-mails without putting some sort of tracking software on your computer to verify that you actually forwarded those messages. They’d have to do it with a virus or Trojan-like program without your knowledge or they’d have to set up an auto-install program that asks your permission to put tracking software on your computer – in which case you’d know it was there. It’s exactly like if you were to send 9 letters via the post office. How would anyone track that unless they watched you put the letters in the mailbox. If it does work, it means something bad has attached itself to your computer…
2. Go to the bottom and look at the first person to post this message – in this case it was one Roger Wilson. I looked down the list of every previous post and in every case but one, the poster’s e-mail address is shown. Guess who's name did not yield and address when clicke - OUR BUDDY ROGER WILSON’S. That’s a dead giveaway. He doesn’t want some anti-spam vigilante tracking him down and bonking him on the head. I once tracked down one of those websites that hijack your computer and make it inoperable unless you buy something. He had an office in Austin, Texas. I went to visit with a baseball bat. Someone else had the same idea first evidently, because when I got there, the place was abandoned and there was some pretty radical damage to the premises.
3. Rule of thumb – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Doing this would break Applebees virtually overnight. If this worked, you could have this scenario. First e-mailer sends to 9 people. Those send to 9 each (that’s 81 so far). At 50 each, Applebees would be in for 4050 dollars. The version of this e-mail had gone through 11 rounds. Let’s say only 1/3 of the people actually forwarded it from there on out and only a third of those responded and so on.. Let’s see what kind of damage that does.
3rd round – 81x3= 243
4th round – 243x3= 729
5th round – 729x3= 2187
6th round – 2187x3=6561
7th round – 6561x3=19,683
8th round – 19,683x3=59049
9th round – 59049x3=177147
10th round – 177,147x3=531,441
11th round - 531,441x3=1,594,323
Now at 50 dollars each that’s - 50 x 1,594,323 = 79,716,150
That means that after only 11 rounds, this e-mail would have already cost Applebee's close to 80 MILLION dollars and that’s if only a third of the people who receive this actually forward it to someone who hasn’t received it already. You can reach far more people with your message for far less cost than that by buying commercials during the Superbowl.
If all 9 responded at every level, the total would be a devastating 31,381,059,609. That’s over 31 BILLION dollars Applebees would lose on that little deal in just a few weeks.
4. Rule of thumb #2 – If it looks too good to pass up, there’s probably a hook in it. That’s how you catch fish. Remember this: One day, this e-mail may come back to this guy (since he started circulating it first among people whose e-mail he actually knows and who probably know his, only not as “Roger Wilson, but by his real name. When he gets hold of it, with all those forwards, he can harvest all the e-mail addresses (which are probably good addresses since the people sent them to people they know). He can then sell them to spammers or use them to spam himself or to send you viruses if he’s a mean person. AND every time he gets it back, he gets a whole knew tree of e-mail addresses because of the way pyramid forwarding works. Remember after only 11 rounds it could have passed through 1.5 million e-mail boxes. He’s set out what amounts to an e-mail drift net and when he comes upon it again, the e-mail address he harvests from that net may be yours or mine.
Also notice about midway through the list, there’s a note that says “it works!” That’ can’t be real because you wouldn’t know it works till after you send the e-mail, so how could you have said “it works” when you sent it in the first place, since you hadn’t found out yet whether it works or not, huh? The spammer is probably the one who sent it although the e-mail address may be disguised or phony.
5. Look it up on Snopes.com or About.com's urban legends/hoaxes site: They've always got the straight poop on the latest of these. Do that before you pass anything along!
NICE PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO TRUST WHAT THEIR FRIENDS SEND THEM WITHOUT HAVING TO THINK LIKE A CROOK. SADLY, WE DON’T LIVE IN THAT SORT OF WORLD YET. EVERYTHING WE RECEIVE, FORWARD AND OPEN HAS TO BE VIEWED WITH SUSPICION ANY MORE.
THAT’S KIND OF SAD WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT.
I HOPE ROGER WILSON GETS A VIRUS.
If you want to do some good, e-mail this column to 9 people. I bet it doesn’t make it past the first round. That’s just human nature.
Just one man's opinion,
"Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is."
. - Will Rogers