Have you ever had an email claiming you’re a winner? First of all, you should already be wary of anything that “claims” you’re winner. One such scam involves the 2012 Summer Olympics. Believe me when I say, it will not lead you to gold.
The Opening Pitch
This particular scam starts with an email saying, “Congratulations, you have won 2012 Olympic lucky draws London: Your claim and payment processing was routed to our satellite payment center in South Africa.” Here is the next part of the email:
“Kindly contact Dr David Barber our South African claim processing agent via email: email@example.com and telephone +27 736-042-287 for payment directives on your prize of GBP1, 500, 000, 00(1.5million British pounds sterling) from the (http://www.london2012.com). Your prize reference is (LON1227U).”
The email instructs you to contact the claim processing agent with your prize winning references numbers. Then, you’re told the prize is in a South African bank waiting to be transferred to your bank account once you give the processing agent your bank account information. Believe me when I say there is no prize! Notice that you’re being asked to give your bank account information. BIG HINT! Don’t ever give your bank account or personal information to strangers!
We called the number and the person on the other line didn’t know what we were talking about and asked us to email the address provided. We did and never received a response. Perhaps that’s because they realized they had emailed the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Once you give your bank account information, you can bet you just handed over an open check to withdraw funds from your account or expose yourself to identity theft. Again, you will not receive a winning prize.
How to avoid it
Keep this in mind: any message that claims your email address or mobile phone number has been randomly selected for a lottery where you win big, and have never entered, is a scam! Do not respond to the message because, by doing so, you'll just provide more information about yourself.
Here are a few tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to protect yourself from foreign lotteries:
- There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
- Scam artists will ask for your credit card and bank account numbers during an unsolicited sales pitch. Keep them to yourself!