A chain letter, a fake sick child and 'an ugly situation'

Jim Lynn was a healthy adult, but the joke being played on him was pretty sick.

'It's an ugly situation and it just doesn't stop'

In April 1990, a chain letter was tricking people into sending cards to a sick child who didn't exist. 1:29

Jim Lynn was a healthy adult, but the joke being played on him was pretty sick.

In 1990, Jim Lynn received more than 2,000 get well cards in a short period of time -- all the result of prank in which a chain letter had claimed he was a terminally ill child. (The National/CBC Archives)

Somebody had started a chain letter claiming the 35-year-old factory worker was actually a terminally ill boy.

The hoax urged each recipient to send him a get-well card and to continue the chain by passing on the request to at least 10 other people.

It claimed that Jim hoped to set a Guinness world record for the number of cards he received — and that's why hundreds of cards were sent to Lynn's home in Windsor, Ont., in the early spring of 1990.

"My first card said 'I hope you break the world record' and I realized what had happened," said Lynn, who believed a co-worker had put the card-sending practical joke in motion.

No way to make it stop

Jim Lynn is seen with a bundle of mail that had been sent to him as a result of a prank involving a chain letter. (The National/CBC Archives)

"It's an ugly situation and it just doesn't stop," he said on CBC's The National.

Lynn had sent many cards back. He donated the money that had been sent his way — about $100 in total — to the Canadian Cancer Society.

He hoped the letters would stop and the joke would be over.

Colleen McEdwards, the reporter on the story, told CBC viewers that because the chain letter hadn't asked for any money, there wasn't any path to having the person responsible charged with a crime.