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Spam mail - Finding Ashley Flores

Once in a while, this kind of chain or pyramid letters reappears. Someone has been lost, needs blood or some type of medication, always in a hurry. Frequently, reading the text with a critical eye reveals sufficient arguments to justify a simple google search (look for the e-mail address or specific words).

Infrequently, a somewhat improved and more believable version of these letters appears, and causes havoc in e-mail traffic, local police stations, local newspapers (who don't even check their stories).

Ashley Flores seems to have disappeared for the first time around 2006, in Philadelphia, U.S. The item caused thousands of calls to the police, FBI, and other security services. Search parties were organized, and many families stayed preoccupied about the nice - alegedly lost - girl, but who was never reported missing to any police station or FBI.

Later, Ashley disappeared again, this time in France, where a translation of the original message appeared.

Recently (2009), a localized version of the message appeared in the Córdoba, Argentina area. Not only the text was translated, but the people involved where adapted to local folclore. The only element still in common with the original message was the e-mail address at yahoo.com.

So, what is the purpose of this mail? I suspect harvesting e-mail addresses (and maybe just the satisfaction about having created confusion with the local services). Even though the message recommends sending the mails with the destination address hidden, many of the forwarders don't care, or don't know how to do it.

The text (Spanish version)

     Urgente  ES UN ENVIO DE UNA MAMA DE  SCHOENSTATT  DE LA PROV. DE CORDOBA   
              son unos minutos nada más.  
              ENVIAR CON COPIA OCULTA, ES DECIR  CCO
     
     Pasa la foto a todo el mundo, nunca se sabe... Por favor, mira la foto,
     lee el mensaje de una madre desesperada y pasa la foto a todos tus 
     contactos  
                         
     Mi hija tiene 13 años, Ashley Flores, está desaparecida desde hace dos 
     semanas. Puede ocurrir que si todos pasan este mensaje, alguna persona  
     la reconocerá. Se han encontrado personas con este método.  Internet 
     circula por todo el mundo.... Por favor, pasa este mensaje a todos 
     tus contactos. Gracias a todos ustedes podré encontrar a mi niña.  
                         
     Les pido a todos, les suplico a todos, por favor pasa esta imagen a 
     todas las personas posibles.Todavía no es tarde POR FAVOR, AYÚDAME. 
     Si tienes información, contacta con:HelpfindAshleyFlores@yahoo.com 
     Solo hacen falta 2 minutos para hacer circular el mensaje. Si se 
     tratase de tu hijo(a) harías lo imposible por obtener ayuda.

     * se removió la dirección * 

References

http://sobrenatural.net/blog
Site with the chain letter warning in Spanish
http://www.ashleyflores.net/
Site dedicated to the non-disappearance of Ashley
http://www.snopes.com
An article on this case (and many others)
http://www.breakthechain.org
Another article on this case
http://urbanlegends.about.com
Site on urban myths
4280
(c) John Coppens ON6JC/LW3HAZ correo