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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 17:14 GMT
'Congratulations - you've won the lottery!'
SCAM WATCH
Your tales of the latest scams

Lottery e-mail
THE SCAM: A lottery win for a draw you've never entered

THE MEDIUM: E-mail

THE SCRIPT: A message from an official-sounding lottery organisation says that your e-mail address has been selected at random on the internet and come second in their draw - winning 3.5m euros. The Sultan of Brunei and Bill Gates have provided the money, it says, to encourage computer use. It may add that the British Broadcasting Cooperation [sic] will publish the winners' names.

THE CATCH: "When I got this message, I knew that trying to get the money would be pointless," says John Robertson of Stirling, Scotland. "Had I gone through with it, they would, at some point, have asked me for my bank details." Hence he did not reply to the "claims officer" waiting to "assist you with your winnings".

If he had, he would have received another e-mail asking for his name, address, phone number and photocopy of his driving licence to make sure the payment goes to the rightful winner, and thanking him for his partisperation [sic].

He would then have been asked for an administration fee - possibly up to hundreds to thousands of pounds - but even if the fee is paid, the winnings never materialise.

THE VERDICT:

"If it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true. If you suspect it to be an attempted fraud, you are probably right," says a spokeswoman for the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU). "Simply delete the e-mail."

Very few of these messages originate in the UK, and the faltering English should be one of the many giveaways that this is not an official lottery.

For those who have fallen for it and parted with their money, contact the police - although there is little they can do, she says. There are no statistics on how many people get duped, partly because victims are too embarrassed to report it.

While the method of delivery is relatively new, postal versions have been around for years. But the golden rule is that you cannot win a lottery for which you have never bought a ticket. "You've got to be in it to win it," she says.

It is not dissimilar to the now notorious Nigeria 419 scam, in which an e-mail claiming to be from a senior government or bank official asks for help to smuggle millions out of the country in return for a share. Once the victim has paid up-front fees, the promised windfall evaporates.


We want to know the latest scams whether they come by text, e-mail or phone call. Let us know the latest ones you've come across, using the form below.

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