When a swap is not a swap

I had an email which is really a scam so I thought I would let folks know that his type of scam is  going on again. I say again because it comes in a few forms sometimes described as a  “quilt square club” or “charm square club”.(Please note I am not referring to subscription services run by many quilt shops)

The way this scam works is you are sent a short list of names and addresses to send fabric squares to. When you have done this you add your name to the list, strike out the top name, and pass the instructions on to five or six friends.

You are usually promised that hundreds of people will mail you charm squares.

This is actually a type of chain letter which is a type of pyramid scheme. They are fraudulent and as such illegal in many nations including Australia.

Here is an explanation of how and why chain letters work and why they become popular but better still at the bottom of the page is a huge list of reported versions of this hoax and some invaluable resources and links are listed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also published a page of recourses about electronic chain letters.

In the stitching community usually people who perpetuate are simply a little naive or ignorant and are being taken advantage of. So beware and if you are invited to participate in this sort thing just send the email to the trash and perhaps tactfully warn your friend who sent it that its a scam.


  1. I actually received 2 charm squares through the post in the form of a ‘chain letter’. I sent them back with the comment that I did not know the person who had given my details or how she got hold of them.

  2. I know a lady who was collecting charm squares for a quilt who did send charm squares and since charm square have such a tradition of being swapped she believed the letter.

    It made me annoyed when I got a similar email – hence the post

    Sharon B
  3. I think the big thing about these chains, (from my experience with them when I was into penpalling in my late teens) is that no-one actually sends the stuff! You pass on the forms ad infinitum, but, unless it’s something really cheap and insignificant (sometimes I would get a couple of postcards sent or Friendship Books made), no-one keeps the sending side of the bargain. If they did, the whole exchange game/chain business would be great, but sadly, most folk are only in it for what they can get and have zero intention of giving! I daresay the recipient of the stuff I actually DID send got quite a shock!!!=)

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