Retired couple gives away $11 million lottery win, but not to you

This message was waiting in my inbox this morning. It may actually be one of the best examples of social engineering I’ve yet come across:

Dear sir/madam
 
This is a personal email directed to you. I and my wife won a Jackpot Lottery of $11.3 million in July and have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of $500,000.00 USD to you as part of our own charity project to improve the lot of 10 lucky individuals all over the world. If you have received this email then you are one of the lucky recipients and all you have to do is get back with us so that we can send your details to the payout bank. Please you have to help me in prayer for my wife, You can verify this by visiting the web pages below.*(allen.violet.large01@filipinos.ca)*
 
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40009180/ns/us_news-giving/t/retired-couple-gives-away-million-lottery-win/
 
Note: YOU HAVE TO CONTACT MY PRIVATE EMAIL *( allen.violet.large01@filipinos.ca )* FOR MORE INFO
 
Goodluck,
Allen and Violet Large
Email: allen.violet.large01@filipinos.ca

Here’s what was so brilliant about it: you know how these scam email messages always contain disguised links (e.g., the link says “chase.com” but really takes you to some spyware-infested website with a .ru domain)?

The website shown in the message wasn’t disguised at all. Furthermore, it really takes you to an MSNBC article. Further furthermore, there really was an elderly couple from Nova Scotia named Allen and Violet Large, who really won $11 million playing the lottery, and who really did give it all away. I didn’t remove the link from the message quoted above—it’s safe to go ahead and click on it (it’s actually kind of a neat story).

So how do I know it’s not real, and is in fact just another Nigerian 419-style scam?

First off, it arrived via email. To me, it’s already suspicious. Secondly, it’s an email that’s telling me I’m going to get a large amount of cash for doing nothing. At this point, I’m already one thousand percent sure it’s fraudulent.

But let’s really make a case against it, shall we? Read the first paragraph of the MSNBC article (emphasis mine):

An elderly couple who won around $11 million from a lottery ticket in Canada have given the money away to good causes and family, according to media reports.

Have given. Not “are giving.” It’s a done deal, dude; if you’re not a good cause or related to the Larges, and if you haven’t already received money from them, you’re not getting any ’cause there ain’t no more.

Finally, the senders made a rookie mistake: the “from” line didn’t say Allen Large or Violet Large, nor did it contain the “filipinos.ca” email address; instead the message appeared to come from a completely different name with a scasd.us email address (it’s that of a real person, so I won’t give any more details than that).

I don’t know where this scam is coming from, so I can’t say if it’s just a plain old Nigerian 419-style scam or a Nigerian Nigerian 419 scam, but I noticed the signature at the end uses the word “Goodluck” instead of “good luck,” and it only stood out to me because I know that the President of Nigeria is actually named Goodluck Jonathan.

Then again, that could just be a typo; since we already know it’s a scam, we’re really just sort of nitpicking at this point.

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16 Responses to Retired couple gives away $11 million lottery win, but not to you

  1. Nichole_k11@hotmail.com says:

    So i didn’t know this was a scam until after i gave them my home address and phone number. What do i do?
    what is their objective?
    Please reply back to me.

    • Clint says:

      Basically, don’t respond if they try to contact you further. They’ll give you up as a bad job once you don’t seem to be taking the bait. Fortunately, there’s not much they can do with your address and phone number, so your risk of identity theft is low (most people’s phone number and address is already publicly available). If you responded via email, you may eventually need to change email addresses.

      The ultimate objective in this type of scam is to tell you, “Before we can send you your money, we need you to wire us a few thousand dollars to cover fees or taxes.” People have lost entire life savings being strung along by 419 scams. Whatever you do, don’t give out any non-public personal information (Social Security number, bank account numbers) and don’t wire money to anyone.

  2. Robin Pinelli says:

    When checking on this message you will see endless people who have received the letter.
    I thought they said I was one of ten. Not Ten Thousand.
    The end of the message says “Goodluck”
    Don’t they mean “Congradulations”
    Good luck on what?
    If I’m one of the chosen 10
    then I don’t need “luck” now do I

  3. Komal says:

    Hi there,

    Even I received the same mail and i replied back saying I dont need any money from you, please donate it for good sake as you are already doing that. You know what is the reply I got, see below:P

    This is a life time opportunity and 100% legitimate. we quite understand your skepticism and with the look of things you are very skeptical about the donation of this funds. i want to state categorically clear here that the only thing i can deduce from the reservation/thoughts you expressed in your email is the fact that you are probably scared or jittery of the magnitude of the funds.

    We prayed and searched over the internet for assistance because i saw your profile on microsoft email owners list and picked you.violet my wife and i have decided to make sure this is put on the internet for the world to see. my wife has cancer and as you could see from the webpage, am not getting any younger and you can imagine having no kids at this age. although we won this lottery funds last year july 2010 and we have help some charity organisations from our winnings but at this point in time.

    You see after taken care of the needs of our immediate family members, we decided to donate the remaining of the $11million to other individuals around the world in need, the local fire department, the red cross, haiti, hospitals in truro where violet underwent her cancer treatment, and some other organizations in asia and europe that fight cancer, alzheimer’s and diabetes and the bulk of the funds deposited with investec, the payout bank of this charity donation. we have kept just 2% of the entire lottery sum to our self for the raining day.

    To facilitate the disbursement process of the funds [$500,000.00 usd] which have been donated solely to you, please send us your contact address and a valid identification of your self (i.e driver’s license or passport number) so that we can forward your details over to the payout bank immediately. we are hoping that you will be able to use the money wisely and judiciously over there in your country. we will employ you to do what you can to alleviate the level of poverty in your region and also try to enhance the standard of living of as many people as you can because that is the only objective of donating this money to you in the first place.

    I like to re-assure you of the legitimacy of this services as we will not be involved in any fraudulent act and will never be. we will advise as you as the prospective lucky winners to be calm not to loose this great opportunity which millions of people are trying to entangled but the chances just couldn’t come for them because a lot of people are out there to discourage them as they don’t know how it works, and have never seen such before.

    Thank you for accepting our offer, we are indeed grateful.

    God bless you

    Amazing!! Highlight is “not be involved in any fraudulent act ” How people are fooling around. I havent given them any of my details:)

    • Clint says:

      And nothing says “this is a scam” like someone insisting, “No, this is totally not a scam!”

      Also of note: moreso than in the original message, this response is brimming with the kind of errors a non-native English speaker would make (“I like to re-assure you of the legitimacy of this services”). Not that there’s anything wrong with being in the process of learning a new language, of course, but this is supposed to be from an elderly person born and raised in Canada (and not the French-speaking bit, either).

      Also also of note: now they’re asking for a copy of your ID or passport. See how they just slip it in there?

      Thanks for posting this!

  4. D8 4 Life says:

    Of all the reasons listed, I would say the fact that this story was written during July 2010 is a good indicator that this is a fabrication.

  5. D says:

    Just received to… from *******@zcs.k12.in.us

    Dear Sir/Madam

    This is a personal email directed to you. I and my wife won a Jackpot Lottery of $11.3 million in July and have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of $500,000.00 USD to you as part of our own charity project to improve the lot of 10 lucky individuals all over the world. If you have received this email then you are one of the lucky recipients and all you have to do is get back with us so that we can send your details to the payout bank.

    You can verify this by visiting the web pages below.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40009180/ns/us_news-giving/t/retired-couple-gives-away-million-lottery-win/

    You have to contact me at my private email address (allenlarge.violet1938@hotmail.com)

    Goodluck,
    Allen and Violet Large
    Email:allenlarge.violet1938@hotmail.com

    • Clint says:

      I can’t help but notice they’ve changed their email address since the one I received. It’s a Hotmail account now. Another sure sign of criminal activity.

  6. Rae says:

    OMG!!!! I ALREAYD GAVE THEM MY INFORMATION. I EMAIL THEM BACK AND SAID IT WAS FAKE AND ONLY SENT THE INFO AS A TEST. WHAT DO I DO??? I’M SO STUPID FOR BELIEVING THIS, IT’S JUST WITH THE ARTICLE IT SEEMED SO TRUE! OMG HELP!

    • Clint says:

      If you only gave them a name and phone number, don’t worry too much. Ignore any further messages from them (you may eventually have to get a new email address).

      If you’ve given them account numbers or other sensitive information, contact your financial institution and ask them what the correct procedures would be to block unauthorized activity.

      And you’re not stupid. Nobody is immune to scams.

  7. Rae says:

    The closest to any sensitive info that I sent is my Driver’s license. So….Do I contact them about that too? or….

    • Clint says:

      I don’t think there’s a whole lot they can do with that information, but you may want to contact Experian, TransUnion or Equifax (they all have toll-free numbers available online) and see what they tell you.

  8. Neofitus says:

    I’ve got one from g******n@hse.k12.in.us. Apparently somebody hacked into Indiana schools network and uses their computers to send scam emails.

  9. Killer Cali says:

    I just received the same message today and had a feeling it was a scam. Glad I did my own investigating as badd as I need money for bills and Christmas for my 5 kids I wish it was true. Oh Well !! My time will come one day. When I seen it in my mail box I clicked on the link and noticed the full article had been removed bu the comments were still there. I looked on the date of the comments and noticed they were a year old.
    I guess I out smarted the cons. I also remember when I was looking for a home online and I’m pretty sure it is the same people they were offering a home in a very nice area where I know rent is at least $1000.00 a month but they were offering it for $6 or $700.00 and they even went on saying already furnished with stereo system pool Jacuzzi and built in stove ,fridge, I even left my computer for you to use . I just want you to take care of my home and you can live there as long as you wish for I had to leave the country due to my new job that I will be on for 5 years or longer. I’m on a mission for the Lord doing his work. WHAT A LAME !! May the Lord reign down on this person for using his name!! The next was someone running an add for child care and they said they needed some one to look after their child while they were out of town and they would send the money to you in a couple of days for you to start ASAP but you get an advancement all you have to do is send your Name Phone number and address and they would send you a check in the mail but after you get it they would send you an email and tell you to send half of the check back. Well guess what I sent everything they asked for and I sure did get the check . I called the bank that was on the check and told them about it and was told this happened before and the elderly man it happend to cashed the check in his account and sent the sender half of the check And guess what the elderly man had to pay the whole $2500.00 back . That was Messed up !! Well when they called me and emailed me the same day the check came which was the next day after I sent them my info it came Fedaral Exspress . They threatened me told me they know where I live and how they will —- me up about their money . I told them to COME ON With it I’m ready for a good fight and I would Love to beat the —- out of them they momma and whoever else involed. I told them I been in Texas for 5 years and I’m ready to show the what these California hands can do I’ll put a Watts — whipping on them so hard they Great Great grands will fill it !!! Watch Out for these type of schemes and trust me they’re not going to come to your house !!!

  10. Lisa smith says:

    I’ve just received this as of today an I know all about the scammers an they come in all shapes an forms this needs to be stopped!

    From: Johnson, Gregory Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 11:15 PM To: Johnson, Gregory Subject: Dear Sir/Madam This is a personal email directed to you. I and my wife won a Jackpot Lottery of $11.3 million in July and have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of $500,000.00 USD to you as part of our own charity project to improve the lot of 10 lucky individuals all over the world. If you have received this email then you are one of the lucky recipients and all you have to do is get back with us so that we can send your details to the payout bank. You can verify this by visiting the web pages below. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40009180/ ns/us_news-giving/t/retired-couple-gives-away-million-lottery-win/ You have to contact me at my private email address (allenviolet-large1945@hotmail.com) Goodluck, Allen and Violet Large Email: allenviolet-large1945@hotmail.com This e-mail and any attachments are from a sender at Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers, Indiana. They are intended for the named recipients and may contain information that is confidential or privileged under Indiana and federal law. Any error in addressing or sending this e-mail is not a waiver of confidentiality and does not consent to copying or distribution of this e-mail or attachments. If you receive this e-mail in error, please notify the sender of the error by return e-mail and delete this e-mail and its attachments. If there is a need to speak to the sender, please call [317] 594-4100.

    • Clint says:

      They’ve got yet another Gmail address now, I see.

      Looks like the Hamilton Southeastern Schools’ email server automatically tacks on one of those “for your eyes only” type of disclaimers on every message, which is a good thing, since it makes the scam attempt all the more obvious.

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