Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Microsoft, Yahoo partner on scams

Mouse and keyboard
One in 44 people have fallen victim to online lottery scams

Microsoft and Yahoo have teamed up with Western Union and the African Development Bank to combat the nuisance of hoax lottery emails.

Such scams, which invite victims to send a fee in return for a fictitious gift or cash prize, have become increasingly prevalent.

A survey from Microsoft revealed that one in 44 people had lost money to such scams in the last 12 months, with some losing up to 7,000 euros each.

The coalition plans to educate users.

"It's a common perception that only na´ve and extremely gullible people fall victim to lottery scams," said Christopher Fischer, senior counsel at Western Union.

"Our goal is to help consumers protect themselves by helping them to understand how our service operates and how internet lottery scams work," he added.

One of the key messages from Western Union is that consumers should never send money to a stranger using cash-to-cash money transfer services.

Crime report

Victims of lottery scams that involve any of the four companies will be able to report their experience to local police.

International police organisation Interpol has been working with national law enforcement agencies to inform them of the initiative and provide guidance on critical information they need to collect.

If victims want, a copy of the crime report will also be sent to the relevant coalition member which will use its own in-house investigative powers to identify trends, such as multiple scams from the same location.

Many of the scams emanate from Africa and the African Development Bank has seen an exponential increase in the volume of scams using its trademark.

"The reputation of African banking, of African development institutions and of the African continent in general are significantly jeopardised by the explosion in cybercrime falsely using African entities," said William Godbut, chief security officer at African Development Bank.

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