Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
Your email address was entered into our September Microsoft
This is a prize draw, you are now the lucky winner of a brand new Microsoft
You are now entitled to simply claim your prize online at our website, you dont have to buy anything, just collect your prize that you have already won. There has only been a few winners out of many thousands of submissions, so do count yourself lucky!
Please make sure you visit the following link within
Here is your link!
On the page you will need to enter this pass code number to proceed: 37511
This is very important. Do not lose that number! Put in your address, and we will simply mail your
We hope that you will enjoy your new
Congratulations on winning,
From Microsoft and the PrizeBounty team!
Origins: Free Xbox?
The first thing most recipients of this message notice when they follow the provided link and attempt to claim their free Xbox is that they have to pay the shipping charges in advance, an expense ranging from $4.99 to $36.50 (depending upon location and shipping method). Requiring prepayment of shipping fees (even for a "free" item) isn't all that unusual in itself, but the method of payment is what should give one pause here: Prize Bounty accepts only debit card information (complete with PIN). When sending payment by mail, one risks only the amount sent; when using a credit card, one has at least some protection and recourse against unauthorized charges which may be charged to that card. But supplying a debit card number and PIN to persons unknown opens the door to a potential draining of one's bank account with little hope of recovery.
Prize Bounty claims their transactions are processed by Authorize.net (which is a legitimate payment processing system) and that they "can not accept credit cards at this time, due to issues with our merchant account." However, this very same Xbox "giveaway" was being run just a few days earlier in connection with the domain Giftstakes.com, about which Authorize.net said:
Recipients should also be skeptical about why the Prize Bounty site says they have only
This Xbox prize giveaway has all the hallmarks of a scam, a "free" offer which could end up costing claimants dearly.
Anyone who has fallen victim to this scam is encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
Update: The same giveaway scheme resurfaced in November 2003, this time under the name of Prize-Giveaway.
Last updated: 6 November 2008
Reuters. "Best Buy Warns About Deceptive E-Mail." 18 June 2003.