Some days ago when I was going  through my inbox I found a mail from some strange id stating that I had was the owner of some jackpot. Apparently the mail was from some RBI (RESERVE BANK OF INDIA) employee stating that I was the owner of a particular unclaimed deposit. It’s amazing how often we get a message telling us we’ve won the lottery.

Most of us receive such mails. Sometimes it states that your email-id has won a particular lottery hosted by some famous company. Sometimes it states that you have won a laptop or a latest i-phone or some other gadget. Sometimes its about some rich person naming you as their successor. So on…

These cheerful notifications share plenty of similarities: the winner is notified that he has won a handsome sum of money in a certain lottery and must contact a lottery official to receive it. It sounds very tempting, but alas, this is nothing more than network fraud. Remember, these mails are fake/scams. Most of us are aware about it being fake but sometimes some of us do fall prey to such tricks.

How do these scams work?

The senders of such e-mails are frauds, hackers or criminals continuously looking for prey.

They pick up random email id’s from various websites like Social Networking Sites, Job Portals, Dating Sites, etc. Sometimes they randomly type any email-id’s.

They have a particular format of a mail. One example is:

From: <microsoftlott@excite.co.uk>
To: <microsoftlott@netscape.net>
Sent: Sunday, 26 December, 2004 21:46
Subject: THE YEAR 2004 – MICROSOFT LOTTO WINNING NOTIFICATION !!!

E-MAIL SWEEPSTAKES – AMSTERDAM,
MICROSOFT LOTTO:
Ref. Number: MST/ 614D/301/741/6X
Batch Number: 4132-72835-P47M

Sir/Madam,

We are pleased to inform you about the result of the MICROSOFT LOTTO – E-MAIL LOTTERY BALLOT INTERNATIONAL / WORLD GAMING BOARD Programs, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS , held on the 17th of December, 2004 . Your e-mail address attached to ticket Number LBW 8340513 with serial Number 5812-021 drew lucky numbers 06-47-71-62-22-39, which consequently won in the first category. Due to the mix up of certain numbers, the results were released late, on the 23rd of December, 2004.
You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay of €1,000,000.00 (One Million Euro only ) in cash credited to file Reference Number MST/ 614D/301/741/6X. This is from total prize of €50, 000,000.00 (Fifty million Euro only) shared among the fifty international winners in this category. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Your fund is now deposited in a suspense account with our paying bank and insured in your name . However, following the mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your Winning Information confidential until your claims have been processed and your money remitted to your account. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants. All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 2,000,000 companies’ and 30,000,000 individuals’ e-mail addresses and names from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every three years. The software corporation , to encourage some few individuals with web sites and e-mail addresses promoted this lottery.
We hope that with part of your winning, you will take part in our next International lottery.
**************************************************************************** ***
To file for your Claim, please contact our Claim Agent; ATLAS FINANCIAL SERVICES;
Jack Hopkins (Tel; +31 646 455 845) – Claim Manager
e-mail:atlasfinser@netscape.net
**************************************************************************** ***
for the processing and remittance of your funds into your designated bank account.
All winnings must be claimed not later than 16th of January, 2005. After this date, all unclaimed funds will be withdrawn and included in our next stake. To avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please remember to quote your reference and batch numbers in all correspondences. Furthermore, should there be any change of address, do inform our agent as soon as possible.

Congratulations once more from our members of staff and thanks for being part of Microsoft Lotto Programme.
Note: Under the age of 18 are not eligible.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Melanie van Zoon.
(Lottery Co-ordinator)

These messages are so tempting that they make you want to contact them. What happens when you do contact them?

First, they will talk to you sweetly and explain the whole procedure. Then they will ask you to send them some money for the paperwork stuff. The user is asked to send money again and again to meet various expenses like money transfer commission, taxes, fees for opening a bank account, etc.These amounts are usually big. They ask you to send the money through a particular bank account which they create only for a temporary time to receive your money.  The “lucky winner” often sees this money as insignificant in comparison to the sum they’ve just won. However, once they receive the “fee”, the fraudsters disappear, and the unwary user has little chance of ever finding them.

How to find out if the email is a scam?

Here are some email addresses used for such scams.

  • microclaims04@expn.com
  • microclaims04@netscape.net
  • micropostgx@go.com
  • microsoftclaim01@walla.com
  • microsoftclaim04@netscape.net
  • microsoftclaims04@expn.com
  • microsoftlott@netscape.net
  • microsoftlottery_infos@go.com
  • microsoftlotto@netscape.net
  • microsoftpromo01@go.com
  • microsoftresult@netscape.net
  • microsoftwinning@netscape.net
  • micrososs@go.com
  • microzx@go.com
  • micxcrosft@go.com

and

  • admin@ms-wordpromo.com
  • admin@ms-wordpromos.com
  • braddtodd@ms-wordbankofthewinners.com
  • claimsagent@mswordpromotions.com
  • claimsdept@ms-wordpromos.com
  • claimsdept@mswordpromo.com
  • claimsdept@mswordpromotions.com
  • claimsofficer@mswordpromotions.com
  • jackharold@mswordpromotions.com
  • lotteryword@netscape.net
  • ms-wordpromo@winning.com
  • ms-wordpromos@pilu.com
  • ms_wordlottery@galaway.com
  • mswordlotopromotions@tiscali.co.uk
  • mswordlottery_uk@yahoo.com
  • mswordpromo@netscape.com
  • notification@mswordlottopromotions.net
  • notification@mswordpromotions.net

Note that all of them use free email providers instead of the Microsoft.com or MSN.com domain. However the scam also involves some “Personal Address” domains hosted by MSN. That’s right: Microsoft hosts criminal domains that infringe on its own trademarks (“Microsoft Word” ™):

  • ms-wordbankofthewinners.com
  • ms-wordpromo.com
  • ms-wordpromos.com
  • mswordpromotions.com
  • mswordpromotions.net

Sometimes they also use gmail and yahoo id’s too.

Also remember, you cannot win a cash prize in a lottery you have not participated in. No body is generous enough to give away so much money to random strangers. Do not trust automatically translated messages or those containing obvious mistakes. Most importantly, always remember: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Always check the sender’s email address(es). Lottery organizers will not send messages from free mail services.If you still think the message you have received is about a real win, check all the information. Use search engines to look at the lottery name, the senders’ names and telephone numbers. Among the search results you may find detailed commentary.

Be Aware! Be Safe!

for more details check these sites:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery_scam

Congratulations, you’ve won! The reality behind online lotteries

http://www.joewein.de/sw/419msft.html

http://www.businesstoday.in/money/banking/rbi-cautions-public-against-fake-website/story/206598.html

http://www.ajit1.com/spam/i-won-the-microsoft-lottery-award-spam-email/