The venerable Nigerian scams have an additional coloration, that of lottery winnings just waiting for the intended recipients to claim them.
De Lotto Netherlands
41132, NL-1007 DB AMSTERDAM
FROM: THE DESK OF THE PROMOTIONS MANAGER,
INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD DEPARTMENT,
AB96532 AND BATCH NO: 57/1088/IBA.
RE: AWARD NOTIFICATION,
We are pleased to inform you of the announcement today, 23rd November, 2002, of winners of the DE LOTTO NETHERLANDS SWEEPSTAKES LOTTERY / INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS held on 29TH September 2002 as part of our end of year bonanza.
You/your company, attached to ticket number 047-1776-1342-440, with serial number 21564-07 drew the lucky numbers 01-77-13-55-38-11, and consequently won the lottery in the 1st category (category 'A').
You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$3,000,000.00 in cash credited to file REF NO. AB96532. This is from total prize money of US$6,000,000.00 shared among the two(2) international winners in this category. All participants were selected through a computer balloting system drawn form 25,000 names from Middle East, Asia, Africa, Canada, Europe and North America as part our International Promotions Program, which is conducted annually.
Your fund is now deposited with FIRST SECURITIES INC., Due to the mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this award strictly from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants of this program.
We hope with a part of you prize, you will participate in our end of year high stakes US$1.3 billion International Lottery.
To begin your claim, please contact your claim agent;
FIRST SECURITIES INC.
for due processing and remittance of your prize money to a designated account of your choice.
Remember, you must contact your claim agent not later than 3rd of December, 2002. After this date, all funds will be returned as unclaimed. All correspondences to MR. EDWARD CLAPTON, either by fax or email, should have this EMAIL sent along with it and also, your YOUR FULL NAMES, FULL CONTACT ADDRESS(COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE) and EMAIL ADDRESS to which this email is sent, should be clearly and boldly written in your response.
In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please remember to quote your REFERENCE NUMBER and BATCH NUMBER in every one of your correspondences with your agent. Furthermore, should there be any change of your address, do inform your claims agent as soon as possible.
Congratulations again from all our staff and thank you for being part of our promotions program.
MRS SHIRLEY JANSEN
THE PROMOTIONS MANAGER,
DE LOTTO NETHERLANDS.
N.B. Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the winners will result to disqualification. Please do not reply to this mail. Contact your claim agent.
Folks receive out-of-the-blue e-mails from legitimate-sounding lottery organizations assuring them that they are winners in drawings recently held in distant countries and are now in line to receive hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of dollars. The prize money varies from lottery e-mail to e-mail, but the result is always the same: rather than collecting a small fortune in cash, the "winners" end up paying out increasingly large amounts of their own money in a futile effort to collect prizes that forever remain just out of reach.
ALPHA LOTTERY INTERNATIONAL
FROM: INTERNATIONAL PROMOTION/PRIZE AWARD DEPT.
BATCH: 14/011/IPD /NL
RE: WINNING NOTIFICATION / FINAL NOTICE
We are pleased to inform you of the result of the of the Lottery Winners International programs held on the 8th of September, 2002. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number 20511465886 won in the 2nd category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of 1,000,000.00 Euro. (One Million Euro)
Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claims has been processed and your money Remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants.
All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 100,000 company and 50,000,000 individual email addresses and names from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every three year. We hope with part of your winning you will take part in our end of year 50 million Euro international lottery.
To file for your claim, please contact our fiducial agent MR DUCK HAVARD of the, NORTH ATLANTIC CONSULTANCY
TEL:+31-627 431 470
FAX:+31-641 744 645
Remember, all winning must be claimed not later than 31th of December 2002. After this date all unclaimed funds will be included in the next year stake. Please note in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications please remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in all correspondence. Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible.
Congratulations once more from our members of staff and thank you for being part of our promotional program. Note: Anybody under the age of 18 is automatically disqualified.
Mrs. Elizabeth Van Bosch
Each lottery e-mail is rich in detail about when and where the drawing was held, the lucky ticket numbers, how the fortunate person's or company's name had come to be included in the draw, who was to pay out the funds, the payer's phone and fax numbers plus his web site information, how much money is supposed to be coming, and just about anything else one could long for. At times all the "supporting" information is fashioned of whole cloth, but in other cases names of real lotteries and banks are invoked and look-alike web sites accessed through URLs similar to those of the real corporations or institutions are proffered by the con artists as proof of the scheme's being on the up-and-up. Things appear to check out, but only those blessed with unusually acute powers of observation notice those little shifts in detail, and not too many of them understand their import. Versions of this fraud are too numerous to list because the scammers running them continually change the names of the lotteries and their backstories.
Just as the more usual Nigerian scam uses the lure of big money to be had for little or no effort to hook the unwary, so too do the "lottery" versions first hypnotize the about-to-be-gulled with visions of rich windfalls in the offing before lowering the boom. Those who try to collect their "winnings" soon find themselves on the receiving end of e-mails informing them that they have to fork over facilitation fees before the big payouts will come to them. Here is one typical follow-up:
WE HAVE RECEIVED A FAX MESSAGE SENT TO THIS OFFICE THIS MORNING IN REGARDS TO YOUR CLAIMS AND DE LOTTO NETHERLANDS HAS GIVEN A GO AHEAD TO PROCESS YOUR CLAIMS BUT IN THE SHORTEST TIME WHICH IS TO ELAPSE BY 28TH OF NOVEMBER, 2002 AS AS EXTENSION TO THE AFOREMENTIONED DATE IN YOUR LETTER OF NOTIFICATION THEY HAVE SENT YOU EARLIER ON WHICH WAS STATED 20TH OF NOVEMBER 2002.
YOU ARE ADVISED TO FILL AND SEND THE VERIFICATION FORM ATTACHED TO THIS MAIL BACK TO THIS OFFICE VIA FAX OR BY EMAIL TODAY. AS WE SPEAK MY ASSISTANT HAS STARTED PROCESSING YOUR PRIZE CLAIM CERTIFICATE WHICH WILL BE SENT IMMEDIATELY TRANSFER HAS BEEN EFFECTED. A COPY OF PAYMENT OF OUR CHARGES FOR PROCESSING OF YOUR PRIZE WINNING AND HANDLING CHARGES IS TO BE SENT ALONG WITH YOUR FILLED VERIFICATION FORM, UPON RECEIPT OF THESE REQUIREMENTS VIZ: FILLED VERIFICATION FORM AND CONFIRMATION OF PAYMENT OF THE REQUIRED FEE 4,968 EURO (FOUR THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND SIXTY EIGHT EURO) IT WILL TAKE ABOUT 24-48 HOURS FOR PAYMENT TO BE EFFCETED.
KNOWING FULLY WELL THAT YOU HAVE MINIMUM TIME AND WE HAVE TO WORK ALL THROUGH THE CLOCK TO SATISFY OUR CLIENTS SO THAT THEY WOULD HAVE CAUSE TO USE OUR SEVICES SOME OTHER TIME, I WOULD ADVICE YOU MAKE PAYMENT IMMEDIATELY INTO OUR LONDON BRANCH OFFICE VIA WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER WHICH WOULD BE FASTER TO CONFIRM YOUR PAYMENT, WITH THE DETAILS OF OUR ACCOUNT OFFICER IN LONDON AS STATED BELOW:
NAME OF RECEIVER:
MR. JOHN EDWARD
ADDRESS OF RECEIVER:
FIRST SECURITIES INC.
1 PATER NOSTER ROW,
ST. PAULS LONDON EC 4M,
A CONFIRMATION OF PAYMENT SHOULD BE SENT TO THIS OFFICE VIA FAX OR AS AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT ALONG WITH YOUR FILLED VERIFICATION FORM IMMEDIATELY SO THAT WE CAN ACT EFFECTIVELY IN EFFECTING THE TRANSFER OF YOUR PRIZE WINNING.
YOU CAN REACH ME ON MY PERSONAL STATELITE NUMBER: +8821646685846. I REMAIN,
FIRST SECURITIES INC.
Expanded versions of the lottery con have the thieves sending checks to their victims for the full amount of their "winnings" but in the same breath telling them to remit a smaller named sum to an agency that handles the transfer, either for fees associated with preparation of the paperwork or to pay taxes associated with the win. But of course the large checks bounce, leaving the suckers out the value of the fees they mailed off to those running the con. Alternatively, checks for a smaller amount (usually a few thousand) are mailed to potential victims, along with the explanation that these funds are to cover the necessary fees the winners must pony up with. This form of the lottery con is an updated version of the "cashier check" scam. As in the original, the pigeons receive worthless checks from scam artists, deposit them into their own accounts, then wire the far smaller amounts requested to the crossroaders running the con.
And yes, cashier's or certified checks can bounce. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) requires banks to make money from cashier's, certified, or teller's checks available in one to five days. Consequently, funds from checks that might not be good are often released into payees' accounts long before the checks have been honored by their issuing banks. High quality forgeries can be shuttled back and forth between banks for weeks before anyone catches on to their being worthless, by which time victims have long since sent off their own money to the con artists.
No matter what form the scam takes, there are no lottery winnings waiting in the wings; there's naught but con men lurking back there tricking people into wiring "handling fees" directly into their accounts. The "lucky" winners scramble to pay the fees while the clock is ticking, and there are never any pots of gold at the end of their rainbows no matter how much they send or how quickly they send it. Just as in the original form of the Nigerian scam, one scheme after another to move the fortune will fall through, with each new attempt funded by the one waiting for his multi-million dollar "something for nothing"; the victim of the lottery version will pay for the privilege of receiving nothing. The money always flows in the opposite direction from what the victims have been led to believe, but those conned by such schemes often don't realize this until after their wallets have been vacuumed out a bit.
This scam is run in the offline world too -- this con is not limited to cyberspace. Folks have reported receiving such solicitations in surface mail and via cell phone text message.
Especially of note are the repeated cautions to keep matters confidential until final payout is made, "as part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants." The thieves don't want news of false wins being trumpeted, lest the sound of it reach the real lottery people, who will wake the victims up to their being had, or the winners' friends, who will turn them on to this being a scam. The pigeons' keeping things quiet protects the grifters from being discovered before they've parted the gullible from the contents of their bank accounts.