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Museums and galleries fall for Craig John cancer appeal hoax

Howard Lake | 30 September 1997 | News

The chain letter appeal, whether by post or e-mail, is still fooling people at some prestigious organisations.

Chain letter hoaxes just keep on coming, and so do the people who are willing to waste their time and resources in responding to them. UK Fundraising has received photocopies of dozens of responses to the Craig John compliment slip hoax from a range of museums, galleries and libraries.

Craig John is described as “terminally ill with cancer” and he wants to get into the Guinness Book of Records for holding the largest collection of compliment slips.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

This is simply a variant on the Craig Shergold case, and so appeals for compliments slips in his name should be ignored.

Organisations whose staff have sent out compliment slips to Craig John’s appeal, and who have listed on headed paper the names of other organisations to which they have circulated the hoax appeal, include:

The hoax asked “please send a compliment slip of your own to Craig and then forward the enclosed [list of participants], adding your own organisation to the list, to another ten organisations not already on the list.” All of the above, and presumably many more, fell for the hoax and helped it spread.

As these hoaxes move to e-mail, we can expect such “appeals” in the name of allegedly terminally ill children to grow considerably. The impact on the potential of legitimate direct e-mail marketing and fundraising by charities could be serious.