Roger's Security Blog

As Chief Security Advisor of Microsoft EMEA - lets share interesting security information

Lottery Scams – One of the Biggest Threat to End Users

Lottery Scams – One of the Biggest Threat to End Users

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I just want to tell you that I will retire. Yes, sure! I just won twice in a lottery. I just have to make sure that all the taxes and insurance policies are paid…

You know them as well, don’t you? The mails you get to tell you that you won in a lottery (maybe from Microsoft). From what we know today, this is one of the biggest growing types of Internet Fraud today and guess what – I am expecting this to even grow more with the economic downturn as people tend to want to believe in such things as soon as money becomes a little bit tighter.

When I talk about that I often hear statements like “you have to be very naive to get tricked into this”. Honestly today we know that this is not true! We just did a survey and asked approx. 5’000 people in UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Denmark and this led to some pretty interesting results:

  • 113 or one in 44 said they has lost money to an Internet scam. Let’s repeat that: one out of 44! If you are a marketer and are running a direct mailing campaign, you will probably be the marketing person of the year of you have this amount of people coming back to you. This is highly “successful”.
  • The losses range from €100 to €7’000
  • 16% (800) of people who receive lottery scams open some of them and 14% of them send replies
  • There is a big difference in attitudes and awareness level between the countries – for example this ranges from 32% thinking at least some are genuine (Denmark) to 7% (United Kingdom) however across the countries represented 56% of the respondents claim that the scams look professional

So, do not tell me that32% of Danish people are naive or stupid. It is often just the professional way these scams look like.

That’s the reason, why we announced a coalition with Yahoo!, Western Union and African Development Bank to fight lottery scam. This coalition has two goals:

  • Drive awareness amongst our customers so that they understand that a lottery you never participated in will be scam and the goal is to make you to lose money!
  • Collect enough intelligence to help Law Enforcement to go after the criminals. We know that in most of the cases the loss is too low to go after the criminals. So, we encourage all the victims to report to Law Enforcement. In order to prepare Law Enforcement to cope with the information, Interpol prepares them and informs them about this campaign. Interpol will help national Law Enforcement as well to collect all the needed information. In addition we encourage victims to send the case to the respective “organizer” of the lottery. We then individually compile the information to intelligence which will then help Law Enforcement to go after the criminals.

So, if you want to know more about this type of scam, either click on the picture above or this link here.

If you are a victim of a “Microsoft Lottery” and filed your case with Law Enforcement, please report it to us:

Thank you
Roger

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