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Friday, September 22, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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ERIK LACITIS

E-mail bonding: A wealth of messages, but otherwise . . .

Times staff columnist

Johnathon Rourke, wherever you are, call me. If you know Johnathon Rourke (who sometimes also spells his first name "Jonathan"), tell him to contact me. He writes he is from Rhode Island, but various searches I've done show no such person in that state.

Johnathon, you have written something that I figure is now being forwarded hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of times on the world's e-mail systems. Type in Johnathon's name on any electronic search engine. Hundreds of sites will pop up.

So, Johnathon, CALL ME IMMEDIATELY because I know THOUSANDS would LOVE to know about YOU!

Anybody who checks e-mail as part of his morning ritual has gotten some version of your ASTOUNDING proposal. I probably have 50 versions of your essay. MAYBE MORE!

Does the following e-mail message sound familiar?

"Here is your money.

"AS SEEN ON NATIONAL T.V. . . .

"Due to the popularity of this letter on the Internet, a major nightly news program recently devoted an entire show to the investigation of the program described below, to see if it really can make people money.

"The show also investigated whether or not the program was legal. Their findings proved once and for all that there are absolutely no laws prohibiting the participation in this program . . . If you would like to make up to $50,000 in less than 90 days, please read this program.

"Hello - My name is Johnathon Rourke; I'm from Rhode Island . . . Let me tell you a little about myself. I had a profitable business for 10 years. Then in 1979 my business began falling off . . . Finally, I figured it out. It wasn't me, it was the economy . . . In mid-December, I received this program in my e-mail . . . THANK GOODNESS . . . Here was a MONEY MAKING MACHINE . . . Like most of you, I was still skeptical . . . I checked it out with the U.S. Post Office (800-725-2161, 24 hours) and they confirmed that it is indeed legal!

". . . Initially I sent out 10,000 e-mails, so my only expense is my time . . . By March 1, of my e-mailing of 10,000, I received $58,000, with more coming in every day . . .

"GET STARTED TODAY: PLACE YOUR ORDER FOR THE FOUR REPORTS NOW. Note: ALWAYS SEND $5 CASH (U.S. CURRENCY) FOR EACH REPORT . . . Report No. 1: "The Insider's Guide to Advertising for Free on the Internet."

"$$$$$$$ FINALLY MAKE SOME DREAMS COME TRUE!"

Johnathon, this sounds FANTASTIC! But I do have to mention that there has been some TROUBLING criticism of your LEGITIMATE, LEGAL, MONEY-MAKING OPPORTUNITY!

I was talking to Thomas White, a postal inspector here in Seattle. I had forwarded him your plan to FOREVER CHANGE YOUR FINANCES! Sheesh, the things this inspector started talking about!

Illegal spamming. Pyramid scheme. Wire fraud. Violation of Federal Trade Commission regulations. He was talking about how there WEREN'T ENOUGH PEOPLE IN THE U.S.A. to mathematically make this thing work! He was talking about how the Postal Service doesn't go around endorsing such schemes.

Johnathon, I KNOW there is an explanation that will calm down this Mr. White about your LEGITIMATE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME!

I have TRIED and TRIED to contact you, Johnathon! But when I send a reply to your e-mails, they just get bounced back saying your e-mail address is NO GOOD! And that nightly news program report you mentioned, I can't find any such report!

And when I have managed to find phone numbers for people to whom I'm to send $5 CASH, people who have taken the OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME to say HELLO TO WEALTH by copying your e-mail, all I get is answering machines and these people DON'T CALL BACK! Also, some of their addresses appear to be MAIL DROPS!

So, Johnathon, let us talk! Because there are people with NEGATIVE ATTITUDES who might say these $5 reports DON'T EVEN EXIST! Plus there is that Mr. White lurking with his QUESTIONS, Mr. Big-Time Postal Inspector!

Me, I want to meet the author of an e-mail that is criss-crossing the world! I'll bet more people have read your essay than ALL OF THIS YEAR'S BEST-SELLING BOOKS!

Thank you in advance, Johnathon!

TRUST ME, all those MILLIONS OF PEOPLE who everyday get some version of your ASTOUNDING e-mail, boy, would THEY LOVE TO KNOW who the real Johnathon is.

Erik Lacitis' phone number is 206-464-2237.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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