Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A New Chain-Letter Scam: The Microsoft Lottery

It's actually not a new scam, it's just the first time I've gotten a chain letter that uses it. This is the “you've won a lottery you didn't even know you entered” scam. We'll rip this one apart piece by piece the way I like to do.
Since this one's not going to ask me to engage in criminal behavior, it opens with an appeal to my generosity instead of my greed. Not that greed isn't going to be a factor, of course.

Reference No:MSW-L/327015002/06
BATCH NO: #414

This entire “return address” is undoubtedly bogus from the first word. While it claims to be an official notice from Microsoft Corporation (a common victim of chain-letter name-dropping), the “From” address of the email is an account. There is no way that an official representative of Microsoft is going to use anything but a email account to send an official communication. On top of that, this header contains WAY more information than a real lottery notice would need; it's an attempt to create a false sense of legitimacy.

Dear Winner,

Microsoft Co-operation Management Worldwide are pleased to inform you today 30th of November, 2007 that you are a winner of our annual MS-WORD LOTTO LOTTERY conducted in Africa being the host of the event for this present year MEGA JACKPOT LOTTO WINNING PROGRAM held on the 14th of November 2007.
Since when has Microsoft ever had any inclination to run a lottery? The scammer is just throwing out buzzwords that make people think of large cash awards, even though such a thing has nothing to do with the way Microsoft does business.

Even if Microsoft were going to conduct a “lottery”, why on Earth would they do it out of Africa? There's no reason for them to operate such a thing from anywhere but their headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

Your email address was attached to ticket number 214-056-278 with serial number s/n-01025 and drew the lucky numbers 724-595-62-07-45 and consequently won in the 3rd category.
Just how my email address could get attached to this ticket number is something of a mystery, since I never did anything to acquire such a ticket. In reality, some hacker just stripped my email address off of an email header passing through a server somewhere and sold it along with a bunch of others.

As a result of this , you have therefore been approved for a lump sum payout of US$1,000,000:00 (One million united states dollars) payable in cash credited to file Reference No:MSW-L/327015002/06 . This is from total prize money of US$50,000,000 (Fifty million united states dollars) shared among thirty lucky international winners in this category.
Let the greed part of this scam commence. I get to collect a million dollars! Go me!

All participants were selected through our Microsoft computer ballot system drawn from a collation of frequent internet users all over the world from America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia, as part of International Email Promotions Program, which is conducted annually to encourage the use of internet and computers worldwide.
Microsoft runs this lottery to encourage the use of the internet? Who needs encouragement to use the internet? If they were somehow encouraging the use of a particular Microsoft product, they might have something vaguely resembling a motivation for a prize giveaway. This utterly random money giveaway is absurd, since it does nothing to promote Microsoft’s business.

Your fund (Cashier's cheque) has been insured with your Reference No: MSW-L/327015002/06 and will be ready for delivery but in order for your cheque to be issued and insured in your name and for you to begin your claim you are urgently required to contact Mr.Rob White, Foreign Service Manager, London United Kingdom, With this information .

Email {}
A manager for Microsoft using a Yahoo address to conduct official company business? How can people be foolish enough to fall for the scam at this point? You must have turned your brain off at “one million dollars” if this got past your BS detector.

Please note that this winning is valid for THREE WEEKS and failure to issue claims after this period will automatically void your payment. Remember to quote your ticket number, serial number and lucky number in your future correspondence and most importantly as part of our security protocol you are to quote this security code MSW/AUG/SS06 to the Foreign Service Manager, this is to prevent scam.
Urgent! Urgent! Don’t pause to think! You have to jump on this right away if you want to collect your million dollars!

Congratulations once again from the entire management and staff of Microsoft Corporation to all our lucky winners this year and thank you for being part of this Promotional lottery Program. Our special thanks and gratitude goes to Bill Gates of Microsoft and all his associates for alleviating poverty around the world through this promotion.
A bit more shameless name-dropping combined with another appeal to my charitable side (the irony hits like a cast-iron pan in the back of the skull).


Mrs.Olivia Malik


Past winners.
I find it particularly ironic that whoever sent me this scam forgot to include a bogus list of past winners. Oops! I guess there are no past winners!

This scam is another example of Advance Fee Fraud. If I email this scumbag, he’s going to explain that I need to wire him money to cover a potentially endless series of gift taxes, processing fees, and other expenses that have to be settled before I can collect my “winnings”. He’ll get me to sink thousands of dollars into this if he can, and I’ll never see a penny back.

As usual, a quick Google search is a good way to check the legitimacy of any suspicious email you receive. A search for “MS-WORD LOTTO LOTTERY” will return an assortment of pages describing this scam, but not a single Microsoft page describing a real promotional lottery.

The pool of gullible victims of scams like this must be frighteningly deep, as the scumbag perpetrators continue sending these things out even though the scam has been known for years. Please don’t be one of the people in that pool.


Dikkii said...

Oh this takes me back a few years when I went through a scam-baiting phase.

The Nigerian 419 scam was in full flight, so I responded to one just to see how it worked.

After this, I was well into an incredibly addictive, yet totally dangerous hobby. I even posted some of my exploits online. I had to stop when I realised that I was making excuses not to go out with my friends just so I could stay home and continue scam-baiting.

FWIW, I don't think that the lottery scam has anything like the amount of imagination that went into dead dictator's bank accounts.

Mark said...

I love how the pot is $50 million and it is shared among 30 winners of $1 million each.. hmmmm, those scamps at Microsoft, they are pocketing $20 million!