The Microsoft lottery scam

The Microsoft lottery, British lottery, ATM PIN number reversal, and more scams: Internet ScamBusters #221

Internet ScamBusters™
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Issue #221


We haven’t done a subscriber Q&A issue in three months
(there’s been so much to write about!), so we decided to do
one today. You’ll find the answers to four questions (make
sure you check out the second one):

  • Is the Microsoft lottery real?

  • Is my gut feeling about this British lottery correct?

  • ATM PIN number reversal: Is the email going around true or
    just an urban legend?

  • Is the check I’m holding in a safe place legitimate?

As always, we also recommend you check out the most popular
articles from our other sites during the past week:

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Steering Clear of Scams that Drain Your Pocketbook: Learning how to
target="_blank">avoid scams can save you money.

Free Gift Card Offers Explained: Find out if href=""
target="_blank">free gift cards are worth your time.

Illegal Immigration and Identity Theft: This type of href=""
target="_blank">identity theft can create special problems for
its victims.

Let’s check out today’s…

Internet ScamBusters Q&A

Question: I have an email saying I am number 6 of ten possible
winners of 2,500,000 pounds in the Microsoft lottery. I am
supposed to contact a man and give him my info. Also, I will
have to pay something for transfers. Have you heard of this

Answer: Yes, it’s a variant of the lottery scams we’ve written
about extensively.

If you win the lottery, you will not have to pay any cash out
of your pocket. Plus, international lotteries are illegal for
US citizens. Visit our href="">Foreign
Lottery scam page for 5 tips to keep you from being scammed.

Question: I have read your articles for some time now and I
have encountered several scams that you or other people have

My problem is this: I have received an email regarding the
winning of the British Lottery. Now, before you say “scam”
please listen to this. I am so confident that this is not a
scam, but I have about 5% doubt.

They did not ask me for any money or for personal information.
They actually requested that I go to Amsterdam to the bank
that is holding the funds and complete the transaction.

I have sent approximately 20 different emails and requests for
information and they have responded to all and even sent me a
photo ID and other information.

I would like to send you everything that I have received and
see if you can prove it one way or another. I can not sleep
wondering if this is for real. I have seen so many scams
but my gut is telling me this is something else.

Please help me. I do not want to give up this money: what if,
I keep saying. I could help out so many people. Please assist me.

Answer: We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but it is
a scam.

It doesn’t matter whether or not they ask for personal info up
front. Many times, scammers don’t. They communicate many,
many times to build confidence. This seems to be working with

Of course they are emailing you — they are hoping to scam
thousands of dollars from you. Isn’t that worth 20+ emails on
their part?

The photo ID means nothing — it is bogus. We see this a lot.
(It’s similar to men sending photos of beautiful women that
they are impersonating in online dating scams.) Fake photo
IDs can easily be created with photo editing software such as

The big question: Did you buy lottery tickets for this
lottery? If not, it is a scam. End of discussion.

It is also illegal for US citizens to participate in foreign

As for traveling to Amsterdam, it is our opinion that you NOT
go. Many of these scammers are serious criminals. In the
Nigerian scam, people have been kidnapped, missing and even
killed. Many Nigerian scammers and other professional
criminals are now doing lottery scams.

People WANT to believe they won — that is one of the main
reasons why these lottery scams are so effective. So, we
don’t need to see the communication: we’ve seen thousands of
these and they are all — without exception — scams.

Question: Hi, I received this via email and was wondering if
there is any truth to it? I checked the Urban Legends section
of ScamBusters but didn’t see anything about it… If true…
“Good to know”!

— Begin Questionable Email —


If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money
from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering
your Pin # in reverse.

For example if your pin number is 1234 then you would put in
4321. The ATM recognizes that your pin number is backwards
from the ATM card you placed in the machine.

The machine will still give you the money you requested, but
unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately
dispatched to help you.

This information was recently broadcasted on TV and it states
that it is seldom used because people don’t know it exists.

Please pass this along to everyone possible.

— End Questionable Email —

Answer: We answered this question about ATM PIN number
reversal in a previous issue about ATM Theft — you
can find the details at
the top of the page.

The punch line, though, is that it’s an urban legend. Almost
every email that says something like “Please pass this along
to everyone possible” is a hoax — and this ATM PIN Number
Reversal email is no exception.

Question: I was recently contacted by a lady overseas who said
she didn’t have a bank account, and was not able to cash a
check. She asked me for my address, sent me a $4000 check in
my name, so I could send her the money back.

Is this money laundering? She wants $2000 back. I would
appreciate your input. The check is in safe keeping until I
get some info.

Answer: The real problem is probably not money laundering
(although we’d need to know more if that was a problem as

The real issue is that this is a variant of the overpayment

The check is bogus. It could take many weeks after you
deposit it to find out it was either stolen or counterfeit. By
then, you’d have sent — and lost — the $2,000.

You would be responsible for the money, not the bank (even if
they told you they thought it was a valid check). You could
even have problems for passing a bad check.

We hear from many people each week who have gotten taken by
variants of this scam. There are hundreds, if not thousands,
of variants of this scam.

You can read more about href="">overpayment
scams on our site — we want you to understand
the principles behind this scam so you can protect yourself.

That’s all for today — we’ll see you next week.