Mr. Gates! I want my $245!

November 19, 2007, 2:44 PM UTC

Over the weekend I was annoyed to get one of those idiot chain emails from somebody who has me on their list for some reason — a person I do not know, a status I intend to maintain. It’s bad enough when you get one of these things on your office email and can see immediately what’s going on. But when you’re reading a chain email on a Blackberry? You have to scroll down until your thumb gets tired, passing by long fields of addresses and then more addresses and still more Fw:s until you get to the core email, which turns out to be a stupid piece of nonsense like this one:

Dear Friends: Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (If you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.

Regards. Charles S Bailey General Manager
Field Operations,
1-800-842-2332 Ext.. 1085 or 904-1085 or RNX 292-1085

Thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a check for $24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this, Bill gates is the man. It’s all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. You are bound to get at least $10, 000.00.

The email was a lot longer than this, and it clearly had the desired effect because before it got to me it was sent by bulk to no fewer than a hundred different dweebs in four separate forwardings. So now I have all THEIR email addresses and they have mine. Is that a good thing? I don’t think so.

I’m as interested in $245 from Microsoft (MSFT) as the next guy, of course, but it only took one Google (GOOG) to ascertain that this is an urban legend/scam that’s been around for ten years, maybe more, and always with the same exact text that made it around this past weekend. There was no article in USA Today. Bill Gates is not giving away any money, not to us, at any rate.

Perhaps the inclusion of AOL in this idiocy should have been a tipoff of some kind. Who, writing at this time, would include that particular portal in an enterprise of this sort? Nah. They’d goof on Facebook or MySpace or Schlump or some other next-gen destination.

The bottom line is this, guys: Don’t send me any bogus chain emails from here on in, okay? I have other things on my mind. And I’m still waiting for that $80,000,000 check that former king of Nigeria is sending me. That should arrive any day now. I sent them all my banking information. I wonder what’s taking so long?