Some of the email scams going around these days looks somewhat legit. That accounts for a few of the people who get separated from their hard-earned money. Other email scams are so obviously fraudulent, one can only wonder how in the world someone could fall into the trap. Last week, I received an email informing me that I had won the British Microsoft Select Email Award in the amount of eight hundred twenty thousand British Pounds.
Think about that for a second before you even look at the pictures below. First, have you ever heard of Microsoft giving away that kind of money? Have you heard of anyone giving away that kind of money in a contest that didn’t require you to even enter? Why would an American citizen even be included in a British contest?
Now take a look at the first page of the scam.
All of a sudden, the Microsoft contest has become affiliated with Hotmail and Yahoo (UK and Ireland no less). The prize is being administered by Microsoft, but it says I won it from Yahoo and Windows Live. Do you think Yahoo would let Microsoft hold its money and co-brand a contest? The document says seven winners are selected monthly. I guess everyone gets the same prize so we are to believe that these nice people are giving away 5.74 million British Pounds a month or 68.88 million British Pounds a year. No way. Not gonna happen, but lets move further down the scam.
Somehow, my winning number falls into the “South African File.” Dang. First it was to be handled by a London processing center, but now I will have to deal with a South African “fiduciary agent.” One would expect that contacting Mr. Morgan would result in communication with someone who is anything but a fiduciary. Now, moving on to the second page, we find:
I am not sure if these individuals work for Microsoft, Yahoo or anyone else and their placement within the email adds little. Best guess is that they were thrown in as an attempt at a little authenticity. FAIL! Then I am instructed not to disclose my winnings. If I do, it could result in “disqualification that will arise from dual claim.” What? If I tell someone of my great fortune it will result in a double claim? That makes less sense than Microsoft and Yahoo partnering to give away 68.88 million British Pounds a year.
Finally, check out the pictures of past winners. The first guy is holding up a Powerball check. The difference between this scam and Powerball is that people actually win Powerball. Of course you have to buy a ticket rather than being randomly selected as an email user. The second picture contains a lady holding a check. In the background you can clearly see some wall art for the Michigan Lottery. You reckon the Microsoft Yahoo award from London and South Africa has partnered with the Michigan Lottery in addition to Powerball? That would be slightly less likely than actually hitting the Powerball which statistically is a 1 in 146,107,962 proposition. Your odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are much better at 1 in 10,000. The third picture doesn’t have enough detail to determine what was won, but you can bet it didn’t come from Microsoft or Yahoo. The fourth picture is just a couple of guys hugging while some other guys look on. If you ever reply to one of these scams you should hug your money in the same manner because it will be the last time you see it.
You may be thinking “how will my money go to them if I won a lottery?” Simple. If you respond to this type of scam, someone on the other end of the phone is going to inform you that you must pay some form of tax, transfer fee, agent fee, or conversion fee to get your British Pounds converted to US dollars and wired to you. Or, they will send you an advance against your winnings via check for the amount of taxes you will need to pay. You will be instructed to deposit the check in your account and immediately forward the money to them for payment of the tax. When you do, your money is gone. Shortly thereafter your bank will notify you that the check they sent to you is fraudulent. Your odds of recovering the tax money you sent them? ZERO.