Most chain letters are based on falsehoods. The most common forms of chain letters are pyramid schemes, emotionally manipulative stories and superstitious appeals. Chain letters usually make the reader re-send the letter by offering a reward or by intimidation.
Chain letters that ask the reader to add his name before forwarding the message to someone else are more likely to be based on falsehoods. Spammers and telemarketers use this practice to build a list of addresses to send junk mail to.
Pyramid scheme letters consist of a petition to send a small amount of money to a name at the top of the list and forward the message to several others. The letter tells the reader that if enough people participate, the reader will soon reach the top of the list and receive a large sum of money as a result. Superstitious chain letters consist of an emotional story followed by a command to forward the message with a punishment of bad luck if the chain is broken by the reader.