If you are like me, you get plenty of email each day. It's quite a chore to filter through all the SPAM, the legitimate emails and the senseless barrage of email that are just forwards from other people.
In many cases, these forwards are great. A really funny video, a great joke, those are fine. However, many of the emails I see in a day are just scams put together by people with nothing better to do than try to clog the email boxes of the world with junk.
Just the other day a neighbor of mine forwarded me an email about a little girl named Penny Brown that had allegedly been kidnapped. There was a picture included. I have seen this little girl in many kidnapping alert emails since about 1998. You've probably seen her too. Long red hair and freckles, about 12 years old. She's probably grown with children by now, but I'm still getting the emails about her kidnapping that never happened. The person that sent this to me was being compassionate and concerned for this child, but was taken in by a scam.
Another favorite you will see in many different variations. I've seen them say that Bill Gates will give you money for each time you forward an email. Or some child that is dying of cancer pleads with you to forward his email so he can break a record before he passes away. In each of these cases, you are asked to forward the email to everyone in your address book. The truth is that no one can track how many times an email is forwarded.
So, how do you know if an email is true or just a scam? There's a wonderful web site at http://www.snopes.com. On this site you can search their articles written about scam emails. You can search for "Penny Brown" and see an article about the missing girl email. If you have any doubt about the validity of an email, this is a good place to find the truth.
You likely also see a lot of emails that offer good luck if you will forward the email to some minimum number of people. As a believer in science and not hocus pocus, I assure you that you will receive no good or bad luck simply as the result of forwarding of an email or the refusal to do so.
So, help the email boxes of the world and forward responsibly!