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LawHelpNow, Attorney/Lawyer
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Yes I got a letter says seen on oprah and 20/20. It ...

Customer Question

Yes I got a letter says seen on oprah and 20/20. It says send a dollar to the names on the list and it gives a list of people. Says to include a hand written index card with a message please put me on your mailing list along with your name and address. Says this step makes it perfectly legal. You then remove the top name and put your name on the bottom of the list and send it to how ever many people you want, eventually you will get bumped off the list. there are 7 names on the list so you are only investing 7 dollars. Also to me this is not a scam or a fraud because you are not intending to sell anything. please let me know if this is legal or illegal. Also to let you know, you get the addresses that you send the letter to from a mailing list company, there are 5 to chose from. If illegal what would make this legal. Is this considered mail fraud,if yes why? To me mail fraud is when you are frauding someone out of money thanks.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 9 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance.

  1. This is a rather common modern day scam akin to the old "chain letter". It is a sort of "pyramid scheme". I would suggest that you have nothing to do with it.

  2. 18 U.S.C. § 1302 provides:

    Section 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, or instrument purporting to be or to 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 under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both; and for any subsequent offense shall be imprisoned not more than five years.

  3. 18 U.S.C. § 1342 provides:

    Section 1342. Fictitious name or address

    Whoever, for the purpose of conducting, promoting, or carrying on by means of the Postal Service, any scheme or device mentioned in section 1341 of this title or any other unlawful business, uses or assumes, or requests to be addressed by, any fictitious, false, or assumed title, name, or address or name other than his or her own proper name, or takes or receives from any post office or authorized depository of mail matter, any letter, postal card, package, or other mail matter addressed to any such fictitious, false, or assumed title, name, or address, or name other than his or her own proper name, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

  4. As you can see, these federal statutes make no exception for "small" amounts. The ultimate decision is yours, but the botXXXXX XXXXXne is it would be very risky to participate in such operations.

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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq.'s Post: Question, you are notsending a letter, concerning any lottery, gift enterprise, or similair scheme offering prizes. section 1342 i would be using my correct name. So i am not really sure where it makes it illegal, in the loettery since, you are not gambling and you can chose to send a dollar or not. Could you give m,e a better understandind why this letter would be illegal. I have a friend who uses this letter and has made 10 of thousands of dollars, and also the postmaster has asked why he gets so much mail, he said he was in the mail lettering business, and the postmaster said there was someone else getting more mail than him. So he has been doing it for a long time, Also he told me his retired attorney was the one that told him about this and the attorney has made alot of money. My buddy also talked to a retired postal inspector and that you are able to receive lots of mail and that it is illegal for anybody to open your mail unless that they suspect that there or drugsor something illegal in the mail so not sure how you would get busted because if they would open the mail it would only have a 3by 5 card and a dollar bill, it has nothing to do with lottery or frauding anybody like you are selling anything. if you could please let me know who you feel would go after you and he does pay taxes on what he earns and told me the attorney pays a butt load of taxes. I do understand that there are fraud leeters out there but this one seems allittle different in how it is written. plus you do get kicked off the list after awhile and people do not stay on the list like the other pyrimad like it keeps growing and growingf, they will only have 7 on the list. thanks
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I am not satisfied with your answer and asked another question could you replly to the new question to the best of your ability other than sending me the title of the laws which seems to me like it does not apply to the stuff i talk about