Friday, June 15, 2012

The Phony Contest Winner Scam

As I was writing a blog post last night about a friend of mine who was scammed out of $4,000, I received an email from a stranger who was using the name Jim Burch.  Here is what it said:

"Daily Payment of $7,600.00. You have funds payment of $1.5 Million by UN Do send your Name, Address & Phone Number to Mrs. Franca Lee via unwesternunion03 or call +6010 3770 XXX." (I intentionally obscured some of the information, so that none of my readers will try to foolishly collect this "fortune!")

Fortunately for me, as well as others, our local newspaper had already published an article about this scam, so I knew there was nothing legitimate about this email.  From what I understand, there seems to be two types of scams related to this sort of email.

In the first one, the scammers get your name, address and other information.  When you contact them with these facts, they ask for additional information as proof of your identity.  Then, they ask for your Social Security number before sending your "payment."  By then, they have enough information to steal your identity.

In another scam, they actually send you a check for more than they have promised to award you, and then they ask you to send them back the extra money.  For example, they might send you a check for $10,000 and tell you to send them back the $2,400 above the amount of your $7,600 prize.  You deposit the $10,000 check and wire them the $2,400.  Afterwards, much to your horror, the $10,000 check bounces, and you have just wired $2,400 to a total stranger in another country.

The irony of my receiving this email is that it arrived at the same time I was busy writing about another scam, The Crying Teenager Phone Hoax, which also originated overseas.

These kinds of scams are one of the reasons why I am writing this blog.  The downside of the internet is that people around the world are targeting Americans by emailing them a wide variety of fraudulent awards and offers.  If you know of a similar email that you have seen, please list the details in the comments section, below.  The more we can publicize these letters, the more likely we will eventually be able to shut down the scammers.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of phony million dollar bill courtesy of:

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