Predatory Scammers Target Granny
Let me tell you a conversation I had with my grandmother a couple ago. My gram isn’t the type to fall for nonsense and she’s pretty skeptical when it comes to things being too good to be true. I mean, she’s seen a lot in her 75 years on this Earth, after all. As wise as she is, I needed to rescue her from a scam.
After a lot of convincing and telling her the benefits of having a PC and Internet, I was finally able to convince her to get one. I set it up for her and created an email account that she could use to email our family that lives out of state. I wrote down all her information and told her not to give her password to anyone. You know, the typical “Do this and don’t do that” spiel.
A few weeks go by and I get a call from my gram, saying that she got an email saying she won the lottery for our state and all she had to do was send them a payment of $25. I asked her if she sent in the money she said she was going to send the money tomorrow when her check was deposited. Of course, I told her not to send it in and delete the email.
Hindsight, I should have warned her that there were sleazy scammers on the Internet and they’re looking to take advantage of sweet little old ladies (and everyone else). I’m grateful that she called me before she did anything. Needless to say, she and I had a talk the next time I saw her.
Anatomy of an Email Lottery Scam
Most email lottery scams look pretty similar. They all start off by saying congratulations and then they go on about how much money you’ve won, how you beat out millions of other people — blah, blah, blah. It’s all the same thing.
Here are some things you’ll notice right off the bat:
- Dear Sir/Ms. /Mrs.
These emails never use your name. If this was a legitimate sweepstakes, they would use your name to identify you. Even the Publishers Clearing House things that come in the mail use your name!
- General Email Provider
If your notification comes from an email address from someplace like Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or any of the other email providers out there, it’s not real. Even if the email comes from a domain that may sound like a real lottery company try this trick: replace the @ with http:// and see if it takes you to a real website. If it doesn’t take you to a lottery company, it’s not good.
- Pay Me to Pay You
If you ever have to pay someone to receive your prize, it’s a scam. No matter how small the amount may be, no real lottery company will require you to pay for the “release of winnings.” Also, if they ask for a credit card or bank information, it is a scam and they just want to clean you out!
- Key Phrases
There are several key phrases that you can find on any lottery scam emails. FraudAid.com has a list of these “red flag” phrases that law enforcement look for when they are investigating fraud. I fully recommend you familiarize yourself with these phrases — or at least save the page.
There are millions of these things going around the Internet. Who knows how many people these faceless criminals actually get money from? It’s sad that people take advantage of others and will use these tactics to get rich off of someone else’s’ dime. Be smart! If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.