a get-rich-quick scheme in which you receive a message containing a list of names. You’re expected to send money to the first person on the list, cross the first name off, add your name at the bottom, and distribute copies of the message.
Pyramid schemes are presently common on the Internet, but they are illegal in all 50 states and in most other parts of the world. They can’t work because there is no way for everyone to receive more money than they send out; money doesn’t come out of thin air. Pyramid schemers often claim the scheme is legal, but that doesn’t make it so.