How to protect yourself from lottery scams: Internet ScamBusters #68
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright© Audri and Jim Lanford
In honor of National Consumer Protection Week -- which is the week of week (October 26 to November 1, 2003) -- we have created a new special report. It's called:
"The 10 Most Important Things You Can Do Now to Avoid Getting Scammed"
You can get a free copy from the ScamBusters home page at:
You can also hear NPR's Alex Chadwick interview Audri Lanford about the newest Internet scams. To listen, Click here for audio link (scroll down to 'Avoiding Internet Fraud Traps').
OK. Today we have another 'ScamBusters Snippets' issue for you: you'll hear about a new lottery scam, the AOL 'flower' scam, and an update on the 809 scam. Then we'll throw in some credit card insurance fraud info for good measure!
OK, let's get going...
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
The Lottery Scam Email
There's a new lottery scam making the rounds, and it works like this: you get a formal-looking email from some important sounding person from overseas who claims that you've won millions of dollars.
It can start like this:
TO THE MANAGER
FROM: THE DESK OF THE PROMOTIONS MANAGER,
INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD DEPARTMENT,
REF: OYL /25410460082/03
The email goes on to tell you how you entered (even though you didn't), and how names were drawn -- again making it sound very official.
You are next assured that your money is waiting for you, but you are asked to keep it a secret "until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account."
There's a deadline to act, and of course you need to contact the contest manager with a bank account number so they can deposit your winnings.
What should you do if you get an email like this?
Nothing. Delete the email! It's a scam. You did not really win anything.
Legitimate organizations do NOT ask for your personal or banking information via email. And never click on any links in the email.
Action: Never, ever, ever respond to emails that ask for personal info.
AOL 'Flower' Scam
AOL users are targeted in this 'flower' scam. You get an email notification of a charge for flowers that you didn't order made to your credit card through America Online.
But wait, aren't they kind? ;-)
They've included a way for you to fix the problem. All you need to do is click on a link, fill out a form, and voila!
The scammers will have your screen name and password -- or your credit card number. And, clicking the link will have you downloading a virus that wipes out your hard drive...
Unfortunately, the email looks legit. It often uses the company name 1-800-Flowers to lend credibility to the hoax. Obviously, 1-800-Flowers is not involved with this scam.
Action: Delete this email immediately and do not respond.
Always remember: an official email from AOL will have the blue 'envelope' icon, the blue border, and the AOL seal. And as always, AOL staff will never ask you for your password or billing information, or send emails containing links that take you to sites requesting that information.
Another 809 Scam Update
It seems the 809 scam is re-surfacing yet again. (It never really goes away, but this time it is again slightly different.)
You receive a phone call, fax, or email that asks you to telephone the sender of the message immediately using an 809 area code (or one of the other Caribbean area codes).
They may claim that you've won a prize, or need to call to avoid legal action, or even more sinister, to receive information about a relative who is ill, has died or been arrested.
Don't get hooked! Once you call, you'll either be kept on the line as long as possible, or be met with a long recording, because this is a 'pay-per-call' number. The end result could be a large long distance bill, with the cost per minute sometimes as high as $25.
The newest variant of this scam has replaced Internet ScamBusters (as the group giving advice) with AT&T. However, it continues to say that you could be charged $2500 (not true).
Action: Delete this email and don't respond.
For more on the 809 scam, visit:
Credit Card Insurance Fraud
Unsuspecting recipients are getting calls from 'officials' leading them to believe that they need credit card loss protection and insurance coverage.
Sometimes the telemarketers even tell recipients that the insurance could protect them from computer hackers who might access their credit card numbers.
These phony requests involve, of course, that you disclose credit card numbers, maiden names, and other personal financial information, in order for them to 'activate' the protection feature for your credit card.
Credit card protection insurance is not necessary. Most credit card companies already have policies in place if a credit card is lost or stolen that limit your liability to $50. And, the $50 is often waived if you're a good customer.
What should you do if you get a phone call like this? Never disclose your credit card numbers or other personal identifying information over the telephone. Request to be taken off the telemarketers' database, and hang up immediately.