Multi-level marketing spam for child-fingerprinting operation

This may be the creepiest spam I've ever received. In this multi-level marketing scam, you terrorize local parents into coming to your business to have their children fingerprinted (Why fingerprinted? Presumably to ease identification of their mutilated remains -- don't you feel safer already?) by the local cops. This, in turn, gets you a bunch of potential customers to buy whatever junk your business sells.
Introducing Operation Kidsafe

Operation Kidsafe is a completely turnkey program designed by child safety expert - Mark J. Bott- that will deliver a huge number of parents and potential new customers. Parents will bring their children to your location to have their children fingerprinted and photographed using the same technology and equipment that is used by the U.S. Secret Service and FBI. In the event their child ever goes missing, they will have this information to provide to their local police department to assist in the safe return of their child.

Completely Turnkey- Operation Kidsafe coordinates the entire event. Local Police and Fire Departments attend. 10,000 flyers are distributed throughout the community to Churches, Schools, Day cares and other civic organizations. A full court press is put on media to help get the word out.

Market Exclusivity- Once you enroll, no one else within a 50-mile radius of your location can host another Operation Kidsafe Event. You have first right of refusal for the following year.

Free Sales Training- The Operation Kidsafe staff will teach your salespeople a system that allows a comfortable transition to reviewing your products and services while the children are being fingerprinted. They will help you focus your team by holding a training and prep meeting with you prior to your event.

No limit to # of Children Fingerprinted- Spread the word! You have the ability to make this event as big as you would like. You can advertise it, send out letters to your own customer database, host a live radio remote etc. The possibilities are endless!

If you would like more information and a full sponsor package with references, please fill out the request and fax to us at


  1. Yeah, because **finger printing** will get your kid back soooo much faster. Most abductions are by parents, so identification of the kid isn’t really the issue. What are they going to do, put up “have you seen this finger print?” Amber alerts?

  2. While this is certainly scummy, there’s no indication this has anything to do with multilevel marketing.

    The defining attribute of MLM schemes is rewarding you for recruiting other schlubs — who are brought into the organization “below” you, and from whom you recieve a cut of sales. Additionally, you pay a percent of sales to whoever recruited you. Hence “multilevel”.

    The encouragement to work directly with the top level organization, thereby bypassing all other “levels”, is the antithesis of MLM.

  3. As far as I know, not one single child has ever been recovered because he/she had fingerprints on file.

    Why? because you only find fingerprints in places where they are likely to be anyways. And even if the cops are going to go around dusting every crime scene from wall-to-wall, and running every single fingerprint, it’s still a mostly useless process that they don’t have the resources to accomplish anyways. the only use fingerprints have are in identifying criminals after a crime has been committed – and you can be sure that over the next few years, what constitutes a ‘crime’ is going to become much broader in its interpretation.

    since DNA is almost ALWAYS available for comparison, even after a child goes missing, and is a much more solid type of evidence, can anyone really give a LOGICAL explanation for why these fingerprints are being solicited for a GOOD purpose?

  4. I remember getting fingerprinted along with the rest of my class when I was in elementary school in the early 80s. It didn’t occur to me to get creeped out by the implications until many years afterward.

  5. “Mark J. Bott” according to the website is a former Dodge dealer, not a “safety expert”. I’m unable to determine who pays for the documentation extravaganza — the people hosting it, or the concerned parents. It looks like all that happens is that the parents get a paper form with the kid’s fingerprints on it, that they can later fill out with other vital statistics and a photo.

    So far, they weem to be aiming it at auto and dealer shows. Not the type of places I’m going to be dragging any but the most gearhead of 7 year olds.

  6. Something like this was going on at my local drugstore a few months back. The college-age girls running it were sincere and gave my kid a coloring book before we knew what was going on. When I realized it was about fingerprinting my son I said no and got a bit of a guilt thing. They then gave me a “fingerprint at home” kit and encouraged me to send it into some company. They were also asking for donations – I gave them a few bucks to cover the coloring book and left their fingerprinting kit in the trash outside the store. What a strange choice it appears to be – is bad parenting not having a “identity file” for when your child goes missing, or is bad parenting giving irrevocable lifetime personally identifying information about your minor child to a company you’ve never heard of?

  7. it is your parental duty to guard your children’s personal information until they are old enough to fight for themselves. You fail as a parent to let people steal or take this personal data and you are even worse than a failure when you collaborate with the government against your own flesh and blood.

  8. Anyone who has kids will tell you: their prints are EVERYWHERE. In the unlikely event that the police required them, they could pull dozens of complete sets in every imaginable medium. Peanut butter on the TV? Check. Ketchup on the car windows? Roger. No fingerprint technician would ever go wanting at my house.

  9. @#9 cinemajay

    wouldn’t DNA suffice, and even be superior, in that it’s almost always available? fingerprints dont survive decomposition.

  10. I agree with #3

    This is more closely related to a Single Layer Intergrated Marketing Event (SLIME).

  11. This stuff really bothers me. I have always avoided having this happen to my kids, but it is hard. The preschools and elementary schools seem a-ok with pushing it. I actually think it is more likely for this information to stay on file and be used against children when they grow up and are suspected of committing a crime. Call me cynical, but I don’t want to be adding my kid’s fingerprints to a database that has great potential to be used against them. My children before my government (and it’s private institutions selling their personal data.) If something happens, there is plenty of DNA and fingerprints to be rounded up at home, worst case scenario only.

  12. @5, I was also finger printed at school in the early 80’s. I seem to recall a questionnaire for my parents to fill out that asked for identifying birth marks and other things that may have been of some “use” to authorities if some scofflaw done run off with me. I wonder where that information is now?

    As for the MLM, I agree with #3, this really doesn’t have the ML part of the MLM. This is just a plain old greasy get-out-the-wallets-and-the-morons-their-attached-to ploy.

  13. if you really feel you must as a parent; take their pictures yourself, fingerprint them with a common ink pad and paper, clip a lock of hair and swab a q-tip into a sterile Baggie from the inside cheek with some spit. Save a bloody bandaid and stuff the lot into a labelled freezer Zip-loc bag, put that in some tupperware and stick the package into the very back of your freezer. Throw in any baby teeth and you’ve done more than enough. All without betraying your children.

  14. Yeah, this is odd, unneeded, but also not Multi-Level Marketing.

    Got some more buzz words to throw at us?

  15. I ran into these ghouls at an air show once. They had surrounded the only ATM on the base so you had to cut through their lines to get to it. And you would not believe how long these lines were. Beautiful day, and hundreds of parents were dragging their children through this bullshit when they should have been out in the sun looking at the planes. If one good thing came out of it, it was that I got to give my children a concrete definition of the word “sheeples” they will never forget.

  16. Have enough of us told you that using the phrase “multi-level marketing” was incorrect? Have you learned your lesson yet?

  17. I don’t think the fingerprints would be used to find the kid. Kid’s faces and appearance change very rapidly while they are growing and teeth are coming in and out. Fingerprints would be useful if a child is found after an extended abduction or period when they were missing.

    Alternatively, if the kidnapper was caught but the child was still missing the fingerprints could be used to prove that the child had been in their possession. Fingerprints on the inside of a trunk or closet or other enclosed space, etc..

  18. (I’m compiling the email addresses for everyone that remarked on the MLM term and I’m signing them all up for every MLM scam on the planet)

  19. I would be very surprised if the fingerprints went anywhere but home with the parents. The programs like this that I have seen are more of a “service” — your child is fingerprinted on a card that you bring home to keep “just in case”. The coloring book is about “stranger danger”. One event I attended took a DNA swab from inside the child’s cheek and videotaped the child talking. All the samples and tapes were sent home with the parents.

    I know of a business that held a Safety Day with the Kidsafe program, bike safety taught by local police, and fire safety taught by the local FD. The kids loved it. Not all marketing is necessarily evil.

    1. All the samples and tapes were sent home with the parents.

      What on earth is the point of sending home a DNA swab with the parents? Is that sample still going to be good in five years when the child is kidnapped?

      The coloring book is about “stranger danger”.

      Not that it’s not the new social norm to indoctrinate children early on into the culture of fear, but the dangers are primarily from their own families and friends.

  20. I think you are all going a little crazy without knowing what is really going on. I have done one of these with my kids, although not with Kidsafe. The outfit we went to gives you a small booklet you can use to record details about the kid and a DNA collection kit (i.e. a Q-Tip and a vial of vodka) and they take the kid’s picture and capture their fingerprints. You fill out the booklet and swab the kid’s cheek at home. I’m not worried about the photo/prints for two reasons. First, they say they don’t database any of the info: they copy the photo and the prints to a 3.5″ floppy and give it to the parent, claiming that they keep no record of the data. The data is supposedly formatted to FBI standards so that they can easily read it but others would have to work out the data structure to get at the info. I haven’t checked — it might be a folder full of jpegs for all I know — but I don’t care. That’s because of reason number two: they didn’t know who we were. I gave them no identifying information. We were four people in off the street, and even if they kept copies of the photo and the prints, what good did it do them? They could collect a huge database of kid mug shots and prints, but without any IDs to match them with, what would it be good for?

    As to why you would want this: I think that if there is anything worse than having your child killed, it might be having them go missing and having remains turn up at a later date that you couldn’t positively ID as your kid. The prints and photo probably won’t help with that, but the nicely preserved DNA sample just might. And while the prints are probably not terribly useful in a search, the photo and the personal info all neatly formatted and ready for the police to use — but under my control at all times until then — are probably worth having.

    I don’t think my kids are going to be abducted and in fact I’m a big supporter of the free-range kid idea, but having this info ready to go is low-risk, low-hassle and just plain prudent. It took five minutes to generate, didn’t traumatize the kids and also didn’t jeopardize their privacy, despite what the natterers here seems to believe.

  21. “but having this info ready to go is low-risk, low-hassle and just plain prudent. It took five minutes to generate, didn’t traumatize the kids and also didn’t jeopardize their privacy”

    did you read my comment in #18?

  22. @28 Takuan: I read your comment (#18) but chose to ignore it. Since you want to know:

    – have you ever tried to fingerprint your kids? I haven’t, but I have been fingerprinted myself several times for INS and it looks like a skill that takes a goodly bit of practice to master even when dealing with adults. Trying to get usable prints from a toddler is likely not as easy as you think. That being said, as I mentioned I don’t think the prints are likely to be especially useful in most circumstances.

    -it’s the DNA portion of your comment I was specifically ignoring, but now that you have brought it up it’s probably best that I debunk your methodology. Clipped hair is useless. It doesn’t contain DNA — only the skin/root structure at the base of the hair contains DNA and you don’t get that if you cut it off. Spit isn’t especially great either, although if you got enough of it you would probably be able to extract enough DNA from shed epithelial cells to be useful. It’s the mechanical action of scrubbing the swab against the skin lining the cheek that dislodges enough cells to get a good sample. Keeping it in a baggie in your freezer is going not going to work, however. Enzymes that break down nucleic acids (DNase and RNase) are everywhere and DNA/RNA have very short lifetimes in their presence; the temp of your freezer isn’t going to slow down those reactions to any useful extent, not to mention the fact that your freezer regularly warms itself up to defrost, exacerbating the problem. If you want to make this a DIY thing, what you need is exactly what I said: a Q-tip and a bottle of vodka (although higher proof ethanol would probably be a better idea, and a pair of gloves wouldn’t hurt either). Put on the gloves, take the Q-Tip from a fresh container, swab the kid’s cheek for several seconds, put the swab in a small bottle full of booze, seal it up and store at room temperature indefinitely. And yes, I do work in a lab that employs lots of molecular biology ;^)

    Your implication seems to be that I am betraying my kids. Please specifically rebut my assertion that I am not, which is based on the fact that I left no useful information with the collecting organization.

  23. OK, messy prints, use vodka and there ya go. Anyone else out there have technical pointers to make DIY work? If so, send them in.

    Now as to betraying your kids; I was speaking in the general in reference to the company cited in the article which comes across as somewhat slimy in willingness to exploit parental fear to make a buck.
    The point is that this kind of enterprise CAN be easily used by government (or others ) to obtain personal data on children without naive parents understanding what they are giving away. And even if they are not, it encourages a mindset where data gathering becomes acceptable at a level where caution should apply.

    This is something that people can do for themselves and not put their kids at risk. It behooves us to spread workable methods and educate people about how abuses can happen. If that means putting a rock through Operation Kidsafe’s window in the course of getting people’s attention, that is the very least of my worries. As for you taking it personally, that’s up to you.

  24. massspecgeeek @ 29 and takuan @ 30 – in my experience, children enjoy fingerprinting so much that you could repeat as often as you like until you have clear prints.

    getting them to wash the ink off their hands afterwards is another matter.

  25. @27 Antinous:

    “What on earth is the point of sending home a DNA swab with the parents? Is that sample still going to be good in five years when the child is kidnapped?”

    To tell the truth I had to go look this up. For all that I shot my mouth off about indefinite storage, my quick look at the literature didn’t necessarily show that that was true. It certainly seems to be the case that DNA stored under lots of different conditions is stable for 1-2 years. Storage in 70% ethanol or less at room temp or at 4C maybe isn’t the best idea. Looks like you get quite a bit closer by using 95% ethanol at -20C — under those conditions you probably approach indefinite storage. Without actually looking hard enough to find someone who has done the experiment, I would bet that a DNA sample in 95% EtOH at room temp is likely to still be useful in five years; in vodka, maybe not.


    Yeah the occasional kid goes missing, and guess what. Even with his fingerprints they likely wont find him until he is at least 18 and thats only IF he is fingerprinted for some reason. Average joe doesnt get his first real fingerprinting until being arrested, applying for a government or high dollar job, get a bank account, etc. Furthermore if the child was found by some other means like photographs, media, or luck, a simple and quick dna test can prove he is your child.

    SO IN CONCLUSION: Their argument for fingerprinting every single child not only doesnt hold water it doesnt even really make any sense. Its just another in a long list of fear-mongering tactics designed to take something from you. In this case your childs precious image and high quality digital representations of your childs palms and fingerprints. Again why? So in the event that your child becomes the 1 in a 1,000,000,000,000 needle in a haystack, kid that gets abducted and somehow fingerprinted again, he will magically return to you.

    Lastly, has anyone ever even heard of a single case where a child was fingerprinted for anything? No. I have never heard of a single child being fingerprinted. (other than this BS going on for 20 years). Now ask yourself this final question. Have you or anyone ever heard of a SINGLE SOLITARY CHILD being found and returned by his fingerprints???? Again NO.

    Heres how things work now. They Yell KIDNAPPERS! then they invade your childs rights to privacy completely with you standing there thinking what a great job you are doing….. BOO!!! They SCARE YOU!!! Then they offer you a bigger PROBLEM inside the “SOLUTION” A wolf in sheeps clothing if you will, or a pyramid scam inside a job opportunity?!. Just like this Child Tracking scam. For instance, some genius decided to hide the theft of your rights, the tearing of the constitution, and the near destruction of a great american way of living inside something called the PATRIOT ACT. Well you would just have to be downright unpatriotic to take a sensible stand against something with the word PATRIOT in it. Wouldnt you? But then again it has all that stuff about imprisoning innocent people indefinately, seizing of all belongings and property to pay americas debt, tapping every form of communication without reason or warrant, data mining companies for their information, the confiscation of all firearms as seen in new orleans, oh and a little thing about carting free americans to fema work camps. Ok so heres where a good and free american has a choice. Give up your freedom and way of life for a perceived danger……OR……..Go on living your life free and keeping America free for your children, but stay alert in case of a perceived danger.
    People, we had one horrible attack nearly a decade ago, since then that single action has destroyed many peoples free thinking, its destroyed the economy, our confidence in real safety, our relations with other countries, the constitution and bill of rights, everything that the founding fathers held so dear. Its not an outdated piece of paper, but instead a very strong base for framework to be installed upon it. Giving more structure to those well thought out instructions. There is a reason government should never have control of media, you only see what they want you to see, you never see the truth. There is good reason that men should be able to gather in peaceful protest and have free speech. Without this fundamental block there wouldnt have been revolutionaries or an America to begin with. There is a reason a man should feel secure in his home and property, and be free from unwanted intrusions. The list is too long to go on.

    Heres a problem, millions of good people are losing their homes, ahhh the solution? Give banks bazillions so the dollar drops and even more people lose their homes!
    Heres a problem, Millions of good people cannot afford the gas to get to work, or their overpriced car note for that matter, ahh the solution?? Give Big Auto bazillions even though almost nobody is buying new cars and the number falls sharply daily. Result, too many cars, less people on the road, a weaker dollar, and everyone but them knows that Big Auto is Over.

  27. I teach my kids to be skeptical of anyone that wants information from them, and to guard their personal information closely.

    This works at 6, I wonder if it will when they are 14.

  28. @33 Takuan: Despite the fact it comes from a state police agency, I’m pretty sure that’s not great advice. In the published research I looked at, dry storage was the least stable of the methods tested and was the only one that failed at 15 months. I think I would still stick with 95% ethanol in the freezer.

    @34 Anonymous: You too seem to have missed the point. Programs that gather identifying information for parents don’t invade the child’s privacy if they are properly run and if the parents are appropriately vigilant. Unless you are saying that I am invading my child’s privacy by collecting his fingerprints, in which case I’m afraid I am going to have to disagree. You make a few good points about the wildly excessive response to 9/11 by governments of all levels, but I also see more than a hint of “UN black helicopters” in what you say (FEMA work camps, wholesale confiscation of guns), making me loathe to agree with you too readily.

  29. looks like there is all kinds of good and bad advice out there on DNA sampling and storage. Anything definitive?

    One point; as a parent you can exercise every caution to protect your children’s privacy, but they will still put way too much information about themselves on Facebook or whatever first chance they get.

  30. @Massspecgeek

    i love it – your primary argument regarding the information being kept private is ‘they told me they don’t database it’

    you’ve got an unhealthy trust of your government, sir.

  31. @38 Nutbastard:

    “i love it – your primary argument regarding the information being kept private is ‘they told me they don’t database it'”

    You didn’t read what I wrote, or your comprehension skills are poor. Since you had trouble with it the first time, I will restate in shorter, simpler words: I said that they claimed they don’t database but if they did the data was useless because I gave them NO indication of who we were. If they did database, they were left with photos and prints but no idea who they belonged to. Does that strike you as a useful DB?

    And where in this process did I trust my government, exactly? I went to a private information aggregating service hosted by a private entity. Not a federale in sight. I’m afraid I’m constitutionally ill-equipped to see conspiracies everywhere, apparently in contrast with a significant fraction of the population.

  32. I live in a country where everyone is fingerprinted. The government has everyone’s fingerprints on file. Everyone is also issued an “Identity Card” (IC), each with it’s own unique number. The IC has your name, address and photo, along with the IC number. There’s also a smartchip which contains your fingerprint info, plus who knows what.

    There is an entire government department that records everyone’s names, address, and fingerprints. When you move, you inform them, and they issue you a new IC.

    The IC is required for lots of things. Getting a job. Opening a bank account. Withdrawing money from your bank. Any large purchase with your credit card (used as an ID check, compare photo to face, name on IC vs credit card). Even when you don’t need to show your IC, practically every form that asks for your name has a space for your IC number right next to it (people might spell their names slightly differently, especially abbreviations and punctuations, but IC numbers are always 12 digits, and exact).

    Everyone has an IC because it is used as proof of citizenship. Only foreigners don’t have ICs. Legal visitors have passports, illegal immigrants don’t.

    #29 massspecgeek, taking fingerprints is easy. I could show you in 10 seconds. If the INS couldn’t get good prints, it’s because they’re doing it wrong. One bad way is to grab the other guy’s fingers and try to mash it on to the paper. I normally show them how to roll the finger on the inkpad and on the paper, and have them do it themselves. Let them have a few test runs on a piece of paper before doing it on the real form (shred the paper afterwards). Any stamp pad will do, although actual fingerprint pads are preferable because stamp pad ink is hard to wash off the fingers.

  33. I haven’t seen anyone yet say exactly what is the problem here. What are they trying to sell these parents that show up for these fingerprinting days that makes this so dubious?

    At my middle school we were sent home with ChildID kits which instructed parents to write down any unique marks and fingerprint their kid with a provided print sheet that allowed mom and dad to fill out all the vitals and attach a photo..then parents kept the info themselves in case something happened.

    This seems overly cautious yes, but a scam that “betrays your child”…uh..what?

  34. I only recently rehashed memories of interviewing for this job in 2004. I think I may have blocked it out due to the shear hatred/fear I held for what these people were doing. Here is my hazy account…

    I was seated in a room with 6 other ‘potentials’, all of whom were wearing suits(I opted for the sweater over button-up look.) We were all invited to sit in on a group meeting/voodoo chant which consisted of a “Juice by Harry(Requiem for a Dream)” session, and a ‘throw your hands up and get pumped to rob some families’ workout. Oh, I almost forgot the ‘pound on the table’, where I left my hands awkwardly at my sides.

    Later, I was paired with two unpleasant males(one with creepy eyes, the second with a lizard obsession) and we set up shop in a Staples – near the entrance, where we could surprise unsuspecting patrons with our fear mongering and colorful playthings. It basically consisted of the following…

    “HELLO! Would you like to safeguard your child’s life? Well buy this shit and we’ll fingerprint your child! Don’t think that shit suits you? Of course not! The EXPENSIVE shit fits you much better!”

    ^Shit = Stickers and erasers for 5 dollars

    ^Expensive shit = 52 set markers or a 20 minute cartoon Rapunzel VHS for 10 to 20 dollars

    All through the day they’d be discussing how many people they had reeled in the day before, and what they got the poor suckers to purchase. I wondered how much they actually gave to the charity they claimed to be working for.

    Ah yes! They claimed to be working for a charity. I got to asking… How much they donated of the profit to this so called charity – a real charity, I believe. I was told while the seller(creepy guy) gets to keep 40%, the ‘company'(fingerprintscamfuckers) will keep 55%.. leaving…….. 5% to that poor charity. Now while it’s nice to donate to a charity, they would tell the customers, “It goes to charity anyways, so giving feels good.”

    After 4 hours or so we headed back, where I was interviewed by a freakishly intimidating woman on whether or not I was ‘ready to do this’. I hate to say it but I was so intimidated that I said yes, just to get out of there. After being asked that same question 4 or 5 times I think she realized I wasn’t creeper material, and took me off the call-back list. Yay.

    That’s all. I just thought I would share my thankfully short lived experience with one of these companies. It’s made me cautious to donate to charities all together, sadly.


  35. Sure enough, my kids all brought fingerprinting flyers home from school today.

    “Help protect
    you children.

    Have their
    “paw prints”
    taken by the
    Police Department”

    You see it says “paw print” because it is next to a picture of Snoopy and Twiggy hugging.

    It goes on to say that “Sadly, over 800,000 children go missing every year.” Without any mention of how this finger printing will help combat that astronomical figure.

    The whole event is sponsored by a general agency of a life insurance company.

  36. All through the day they’d be discussing how many people they had reeled in the day before, and what they got the poor suckers to purchase. I wondered how much they actually gave to the charity they claimed to be working for.

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