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A Dispatch

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December 31, 2004

A Partially Honest Scammer

Another one of the European lottery scammeroos arrived today. From other sightings, it first went around a couple of weeks ago. Same "winning numbers" and all that rot (haven't these crooks heard of randomizers?).

All of these scams are variations of the advance fee scam, whereby you have to come up with money to take care of "fees" and "processing" to get some big pay day. What struck me about this particular lottery notice was that one of the "steps to claiming your prize" said this:

1.Winners must pay 480 pounds only as fee before claiming their prize for the processing and handling of award.

I gotta hand it to them for being at least somewhat honest about that part—although I doubt the fees stop at 480 pounds if you're gullible enough to start down this one-way road to financial ruin.

This message, by the way, had plenty of inadvertent humor inside it, seemingly from someone not knowing or using the English language very well. And this from a supposedly London-based office (as it turns out, a non-existent building sharing the same name as one in Singapore...hmmm). Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • "We are please to announce you as one of the 10 lucky winners"
  • "Consequently, you have therefore been approved"
  • "Please contact the under listed claims officer"
  • "Winners are advice to keep this award confidential until prize are claimed to avert incidence of impersonation by unscrupulous elements."
  • "The FreeLotto Awards is proudly sponsored by the Microsoft Corporation, the Intel Group, Toshiba, Dell Computers, Mackintosh and a conglomeration of other international IT companies." (So much for the millions that Apple Computer, Inc. spends on its corporate branding.)

The scammer also didn't realize (or didn't care) that by sending the message through a web-based mail account at an Italian ISP, the message would get a nice little footer:

Mail sent from WebMail service at PolettiX

So, an outfit that claims to give away (get this) 200 million euros annually uses a web mail portal to send out its "winner" notifications. That would be like Publisher's Clearing House using a Hotmail account to notify winners instead of its Prize Patrol and camera crew.

The sad part, however, is that this scammy message will probably trick more than a few recipients into forking over money they can't afford to receive absolutely nothing in return. The scammers must have been sufficiently encouraged by earlier responses to try again with new contact addresses.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 11:28 AM