Whatever they’re calling it: Annual Lottery Promotions, Nokia Lumia Smartphone Promotions, or March 2015 Lottery Promotions, they all have one thing in common – they’re scams.
At best, scams are an annoyance. They’re junk mail that should never arrive through your letterbox or in your inbox.
At worst, however, scams can ruin people’s lives, leave families moneyless, and fund international criminal gangs.
While not a new tactic, scammers are increasingly turning to email to send out scam messages that try to encourage you to part with your hard-earned money.
One such scam doing the rounds is the Microsoft Lottery, otherwise known as Annual Lottery Promotions, Nokia Lumia Smartphone Promotions, and March 2015 Lottery Promotions, to name just a few.
This scam email informs you that you’ve won $500,000 (or any large amount) in a lottery. A lottery you never entered and probably never head of.
The Microsoft Lottery doesn’t exist.
The fraudsters will ask for your bank account information for the wire transfer, but don’t give it to them. While the thought of $500,000 turning up in your bank account sounds appealing, it will never arrive.
This email message is designed to engage you in dialogue with the goal of persuading you to send the cybercriminals money. Instead of receiving prize money, you’ll be asked to pay a sum in advance to cover costs such as tax fees, courier services, attorney fees, and many others.
If you receive one of these emails to your inbox, just delete it.
Avoid clicking on any attachments, but if you do, run an anti-virus sweep on your computer to make sure no harmful programs have been installed.
Should you fall the unfortunate victim to one of these scams, report it to the police service in your country.
You can also send the police report or crime reference number to Microsoft at firstname.lastname@example.org. Microsoft collects this information to help investigate lottery fraud crime and work with international law enforcement to help stop it.
In addition, you should immediately contact your bank to notify them that your account may have been compromised. Close accounts that were accessed fraudulently and change your passwords and personal identification numbers.
Remember: if you didn’t enter a competition, you probably didn’t win one.
More details on how to avoid online scams can be found at the Microsoft Safety & Security Centre.
Have you ever been the victim of an online lottery scam? Tell us your tips for avoiding them in the comments below.
Updated September 30, 2015 6:25 pm