Let’s kick off the long weekend with a derpy lottery scam

May 24, 2013

Many of us (here in the States, anyway) will spend today looking forward to a nice three-day weekend, visions of grilled meat, open-wheel race cars and (if you’re like me) binge-watching the entire fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix dancing in their heads.

Seems like a good time for a “fun” sort of post, so let’s snark at a bad lottery scam email I received this morning:

From: [redacted]@co.pg.md.us
Subject: ! Are You Aware!!

Your email has been announced the winner of the Microsoft E-mail Sweepstakes of 5.6, Million Pounds. Please send these informations:
Full Name:
Address:
Tel / Mobile No.:
Country:
Occupation:
Sex / Age:
Alternative E-mail:
Contact Mrs. Kathrin Rogers: { Kath.rogers@msn.com<mailto:kath.rogers@msn.com> } OR { Kath.rogers@rogers.com<mailto:kath.rogers@rogers.com> } with details. Sincerely, Josphine B. Clay
(Microsoft Management Board, Copyright 1991-2013)

—————————————————————————————

This E-mail and any of its attachments may contain Prince George’s
County Government or Prince George’s County 7th Judicial Circuit
Court proprietary information or Protected Health Information,
which is privileged and confidential. This E-mail is intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to which it is
addressed. If you are not the intended recipient of this E-mail,
you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution,
copying, or action taken in relation to the contents of and
attachments to this E-mail is strictly prohibited by federal law
and may expose you to civil and/or criminal penalties. If you have
received this E-mail in error, please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete the original and any copy of this E-mail and
any printout.

Oh, where to even begin?

For one thing, it doesn’t say I won anything. My email, on the other had, has won 5.6 million pounds. Fat lot of good it will do.

Also: pounds? Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, conducts business in pounds? Sure. Whatever.

“Please send these informations.” Uh-huh. Because Microsoft doesn’t have enough money to hire people who use proper grammar.

! Are You Aware!! Um, ?No I’m Am Not ! !!

Why would a message about a Microsoft sweepstakes come from a Prince George’s County, Maryland email address?

Why would the disclaimer refer to said county, and not, oh…I don’t know…maybe Microsoft?

Finally: there is absolutely no such thing as a Microsoft E-Mail Sweepstakes, nor has there ever been, and nor will there ever be. But if you’ve been reading this site for a while, you already knew that one, didn’t you?

Have a good weekend. Stay vigilant. (Also, try grilling corn with garlic butter and without wrapping it in foil if you’re cooking out this weekend. You have to move it around a lot to avoid flare-ups and burnt corn, but dude…seriously, you’ll never do it the old way again.)


Lottery scam originates from 876 area code (Jamaica)

March 15, 2013

It’s an old scam with a slight twist: lottery scammers based in Jamaica are using threats of physical violence to get victims to wire money.

Usually if you ignore a scam, that’s the end of it. Apparently this group takes it really personally, though; if a potential victim refuses to bite, they make threats. At that point, I suppose the whole “you won the lottery” angle is abandoned and it just becomes pure extortion.

Sometimes I make really general statements, and I’m going to do it again here: unless you personally know someone who lives in Jamaica or own/work for a company that does business in the country, don’t even answer phone calls from the 876 area code. There are exactly zero good reasons you should be getting out-of-the-blue phone calls from random people in Jamaica. The St. Louis BBB has some additional information about this scam.


When a stranger calls…don’t go loading up a Green Dot card, then giving them the number and PIN

February 22, 2013

In what appears to be a new twist on an old scam (aren’t they all, though?), some people have reported a new round of lottery scam phone calls.

In this variation, the would-be victim is told they’ve won a major award, then instructed to purchase a Green Dot (or other brand) card, load it with a specific amount of money, then call the scammer back with the card number and PIN.

What would happen next, of course, is that the scammer would use this information to unload the card and leave the victim without a million dollars or a Mercedes.

It’s easy to see through once you take a step back: the out-of-nowhere call informs you of your fabulous prizes, the bizarre instructions to claim said prizes. The fact that, once you give someone a Green Dot card number and PIN, whatever money is in the account is as good as theirs.

You know what would be awesome? If they ever catch one of these scammers, instead of sending them to jail, forcing them to actually deliver the prizes they promised. “What? Six months in jail? Pfft. Oh, no. You told 106 people they’d won a Mercedes and a million dollars. Now cough ‘em up…


British Telecoms Lottery Scam

February 8, 2011

I think just about everyone at REGIONAL received this message this morning:

From: guido13@web.de
To: winners@btlottery.com
Sent: Monday, February 07, 2011 4:42 AM
Subject: Confirmed Today And Must Be Claimed Immediately

BRITISH TELECOMS PROMOTION DEPARTMENT.
The sum of $1 Million USD has been awarded to you by the BRITISH TELECOMS LOTTERY, Fill the form below for more details and E-MAIL: TO (units291@gmail.com),

1. YOUR FULL NAME:
2. YOUR FULL ADDRESS:
3. YOUR MOBILE PHONE NUMBER:
4. YOUR AGE:
5. CURRENT OCCUPATION:

Yours Faithfully,
BRITISH TELECOMS PROMOTION DEPARTMENT.

Interesting.

Actually, it’s really not. It’s such a hackneyed format for a lottery scam email, there’s almost nothing to say about it.

The history of British Telecom, now known as BT Group, is much more interesting than this scam. Did you know they’re the world’s oldest telecommunications company? They emerged from an amalgamation of 19th Century telegraph companies in the United Kingdom, including the Electric Telegraph Company, the world’s first.

They also, in no way, shape or form, are in the business of running lotteries, or sending out million dollar prizes to random people. Being British, I’d guess they’re not in the habit of trafficking in U.S. Dollars much to begin with. Even if they were, I’m guessing they’d use “BT Group” in their messages, instead of “British Telecoms,” an incorrect pluralization of a corporate identity they haven’t used since 1991. They also would probably not use Gmail or United Internet AG (web.de) email accounts, seeing as how BT Group is itself an Internet service provider.

Dear fraud perpetrators: be more interesting next time.


Shoppers Sweepstakes Lottery: haven’t we been here before?

November 24, 2010
Deja vu

Image via Wikipedia

It looks like another lottery scam is making the rounds in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. This time, people are receiving letters that tell them they’ve won $125,000 in something called the “Shoppers Sweepstakes Lottery.”

There’s a cashier’s check enclosed, naturally, for $3,875, drawn off Evansville Teachers FCU.

The instructions are (say it with me, now) to cash the check and wire $2,875 back to the company, which in this case is “Dominion Investment Securities, Inc.”

To me, this is all déjà vu, that feeling you’ve been somewhere before. This is probably because this lottery scam is exactly like countless others I’ve seen over the past couple years.

Just make sure you don’t go all jamais vu if you get one of these letters. That’s the opposite of déjà vu—you’ve seen something a million times, but you feel like it’s the first time you’ve ever been there.

Tell your friends, tell your neighbors: please don’t feed the con artists.


“Super Seven Contest” Lottery Scam, Universal Trust and Finance Inc.

January 14, 2010

On Tuesday, a REGIONAL member brought a letter and a check to one of our offices. It was quickly determined that it was an example of a Lottery Scam.

Below is the full text:  

UNIVERSAL TRUST AND FINANCE INC
INTERNATIONAL CLAIM DEPARTMENT
2065 KING STREET MORRISTON
ONT N0B 2C3
OFFICE HOURS:M-F:8AM-9PM,SAT:8AM-6PM 

JANUARY 08, 2010. 

NOTICE OF UNCLAIMED WINNINGS 

CLAIM NUMBER: UTF 447734 

This is to find out why you have not claimed the money which you won in the SUPER SEVEN CONTEST.
You are one of the second category Winners of the money Super Seven Contest held on the 3rd of OCTOBER 2009.
A ticket with serial no.461209 posted in your name drew the lucky winning numbers. This entitles you to the lump sum winning of $250,000.00 to be sent to you once the taxes on it has been paid.
Enclosed is a check of $4885.00 which was deducted from your winnings.
The sole purpose of this FIRST CHECK is for the payment of the applicable GOVERNMENT TAXES on your winnings.
The tax amount is $2985.00 to be paid through MONEYGRAM found at every WALMART store or any WESTERN UNION in any convenient store.
You will receive your tax information from your Claim Agent TOM HOWARD

Please do not attempt to use this check until you call. We urge you to keep this winning CONFIDENTIAL until your claim has been processed and your cash remitted to you as this is part of your security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by non participants taking advantage of this program.
You are advised to contact the claim agent immediately for further clarification as indicated below within 10days. 

You are to contact him at 1-647-686-5687 as soon as you receive this letter. 

Congratulations! 

Yours truly, 

[signature] 

MORRIS LEXINGTON
President 

The check was indeed made out to the member for $4,885, and as far as I could tell (I’m still learning how to do it), the fractional routing number agreed with what was in the MICR line. I haven’t had a chance to seen the actual item yet, but I’m willing to guess it was printed on legitimate stock with all the security features intact.

However, there are a number of clues that you’re looking at a Lottery Scam. Ready? 

  1.  The address given for the company is in Canada. There’s a reason “Canadian Lottery” is one of the terms used for this type of scam.
  2. The check is drawn off Phoenix Air, a cargo airline based in Cartersville, GA.
  3. You can’t see it here, but the signature did not look anything like “Morris Lexington.” In fact, it looked like “Paul” and something that ended with a B.
  4. They’re talking about a large cash prize in a contest the recipient never entered. You have to buy a ticket to win a lottery.
  5. When you pay taxes, you pay the government. You don’t use Moneygram or Western Union to wire the funds to a private organization.
  6. The spacing and grammar are weird throughout the letter.
  7. When you win any sort of lottery, applicable fees are taken out beforehand. They don’t send you money only to have you wire it back to them (even if they did, wouldn’t you also be taxed on the original $4,885, too?).
  8. They’re instructing the recipient not to tell anyone about their winnings. This is a massive warning sign. They don’t want their potential victims talking about the letter because they don’t want any better-informed people telling them, “Um, that’s a scam.”

There are probably another ten things I could point out, but if you know what to look for, the fact that you’re being told you won a Canadian contest you didn’t enter in the first place will tell you everything you need to know. Point #8 above is a very common feature of these scams—the attempt to isolate the potential victim from outside advice. This tactic seems to really target the elderly, who often aren’t as “hip” to the latest fraud trends. Make sure you inform your family and friends about these scams, especially those who don’t use the Internet or pay much attention to the news. Had they fallen for it, our member would have lost at least $2,985, and possibly more. Nobody needs that in their life.

Incidentally, I Googled the phone number in the letter. Apparently the owner of that phone is also trying to hawk some computers and/or parts in online classifieds. That probably goes to show something about online classifieds, but we’ll get into that another time.


United Way of Central Indiana sweepstakes scam.

November 19, 2009

File this one under, “Well, that was an odd choice.”

Apparently, people are receiving letters (which claim to be) from the United Way of Central Indiana that inform them they’ve won some sort of sweepstakes, but they have to pay taxes on the prize before they can claim it.

The letters include a check for $3,200, which recipients are (you will not be surprised by this) instructed to cash, then wire the funds to an account.

It’s the same old Lottery Scam, with a new twist: how stupid was it for these clowns to use the United Way?

Here’s the deal: The United Way is a non-profit charitable organization. As such, they are in the business of raising money to support local causes that vary by location, depending on the specific need. Also as such, they’re probably eternally strapped for cash. One of the things you’ll never hear a representative from a charity say is, “Oh, things are great! Money is just pouring in. In fact, we’ve really got too much of it right now!” Seriously—have you ever heard anyone say this?

Therefore, one of the things eternally cash-strapped charitable organizations don’t do is give away thousands of dollars to random people.

See, that’s the opposite of raising money. If they give ten thousand dollars to some random jerk, that’s just ten thousand dollars more they have to raise to replace it. Most likely one dollar at a time at fast food drive-through windows and supermarket check-out lanes.

The thing is, most people know that charities don’t operate in this way, so it’s sort of a weird choice for whoever is running this scam.

However, I also know there are some people who will get this check and wonder if it’s for real. I hope your search has led you here and I’ve helped you make an informed decision to not cash this check.

By the way, it appears that there are some people out there who have a problem with the United Way itself. Comments about how you personally don’t like the organization will be deleted with extreme prejudice. This is not the forum for it. I’m talking about a scam that uses the United Way of Central Indiana’s name and logo, not the politics or the structure of the real thing. Got me?


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