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:
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.*(email@example.com)*
Note: YOU HAVE TO CONTACT MY PRIVATE EMAIL *( firstname.lastname@example.org )* FOR MORE INFO
Allen and Violet Large
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.