Microsoft, Yahoo! Inc, Western Union and the African Development Bank have come together to form a coalition to raise global awareness among consumers of the threat posed by lottery hoax e-mails. Through this collaborative effort, the coalition members will educate internet users so they are better able to protect themselves against fraudulent activities online.

Internet lottery scams are a common form of advance fee fraud, a crime in which the victim is deceived into paying money upfront to receive a fictitious gift or cash prize. Law enforcement officials have expressed concern that scammers will step up their activity to take advantage of people concerned with or affected by the global economic downturn.

Paul Rellis, managing director at Microsoft Ireland, commented, “It’s important to note that this online threat differs from those that try to exploit software code or attack computers. Lottery scammers prey not on software, but on the hope of their victims — and with scams that can be so creative and plausible, internet users simply don’t know who they can believe. Microsoft is announcing this coalition with the African Development Bank, Western Union and Yahoo! today with the goal of helping to better ensure end-to-end trust in the internet for everyone.”

Rellis continue: “We are seeing a marked increase in the number of queries we’re receiving from Irish customers about these type of scams and we are urging all Irish consumers to report such scams through Microsoft, the NCA or the Garda Siochana.”

“The NCA is delighted with this initiative by Microsoft and its partners. We have seen a huge rise in these kinds of scams in Ireland and they are increasingly sophisticated, so consumers should realise that anyone can be a target,” said Ann Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency. “People are understandably reluctant to report falling for scams. However, we can’t hope to tackle the issue if we don’t know how prevalent it is and it is only by victims reporting incidences that we can begin to prevent it. Consumers should remember that you can never win a competition you did not enter. If you are not in you can’t win and if you are contacted about winning a lottery where you did not buy a ticket, you should ignore it.”

The announcement of the internet lottery scam coalition coincides with the release of independent research commissioned by Microsoft into consumer experiences of lottery scams in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Of 4,930 people interviewed, 113 people, or one in 44, said they had lost money to an internet fraudster in the last 12 months, with individual losses ranging from less than 100 euros to more than 7,000 euros.

The research also shows that the following:

  • Of internet users surveyed, 27 per cent thought it likely they would become a victim of an internet lottery scam that would cost them money.
  • More than half (51 per cent) said that lottery scam e-mails made them more reluctant to buy goods from the internet.
  • As a result of internet scams 36 per cent said they were more reluctant to use the internet.

You can read the full announcement here.

 

Reporting Lottery Scams

Victims of lottery scams can report cases by sending their police crime reports to the following addresses and contact numbers:

National Consumer Agency

1890 432 432 or www.consumerconnect.ie

Garda Siochana

http://www.garda.ie/crimeprevent.html

crimprev@iol.ie

or contact your local Garda station

Microsoft

lotfraud@microsoft.com or

Report Lottery Fraud

Microsoft Corp

One Microsoft Way

Redmond, WA 98052-6399

USA

 

Related blog posts:

[July 2008] Receiving suspicious e-mail?

[May 2008] If it sounds to good to be true...