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January 27, 2006

Newest Phony UK Lottery Is Just Too Much!

A newer installment of the bogus UK lottery advance-fee (419) scam arrived today with the subject line "UKONLINE NOTIFICATION DESK" (yes, they have to shout it out). It uses a lot of the same tricks as reported before (wavy Union Jack flag image and a [different] coat of arms, even more images hijacked from the real UK Lottery site, phony signature art from Carl A. Somebody, etc.), but this one ups the ante a bit.

One thing that may cause unsuspecting recipients to believe this one is real is an official-looking barcode image at the bottom of the message. That actually bothers me more than anything else in this hoax because I'd wager that a lot of consumers believe it is a unique identifier associated with the message they received. The same image (sourced from the same URL) has appeared in lottery scam messages since at least October 2005.

Anyway, this "winning notification" is signed ("Yours faithfully") by two people in two places in the message. The first is the "Zonal Coordinator" named Mr. Lucy Daran (not a typo). The second is someone named Mr. Brian Hunt, a name used in lottery scam messages dating back to at least 2004. The kicker is that there is a supposed photo of Mr. Hunt, a distinguished-looking, grey-haired gentleman—someone you'd trust at first sight. The problem is, however, that the image (as revealed in the source code of the email message) is hijacked from a different source. The photo, it turns out, is of Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar, current president of Rotary International. Yes, the Rotary International. I don't know if Mr. Stenhammer knows his image is being abused, but I'd sure recommend the Rotary site change the file name of the image pronto. (And I'm also glad that I don't look distinguished enough to make my mug shot worthy of hijacking.)

The scammer did slip up with a major gaffe with this line:

N/B, DO NOT FALL TO WRITE US ON THIS EMAIL : [removed]@hotmail.com

But by this point, gullible readers have already spent the £2,000,000 in their minds, and won't spot either the misspelling or the oddity that the "official" UK lottery would use a Hotmail address. By the way, this email address is different than the one the message instructs users to contact. That address is a yahoo.co.uk address. Geez.

Posted on January 27, 2006 at 09:29 AM