The Latest E-mail Scam

You receive an email that’s titled “PRIZE AWARD NOTIFICATION!” No beating around the bush, no careful “You may have won…”, a flat statement that you have won and the email is to acquaint you with your status as a winner and tell you how to collect your money, typically between 100,000 and 250,000 Euros.

It is our pleasure to inform you that you have emerged as a Category “C” winner of the International Lotto Netherlands. CONGRATULATIONS! You are entitled to a prize sum of 1,500,000.00.Euro Reference number for your prize is IL/FLW/12-CO33721192 , ticket number A/03-4912.As a category “C” winner, you have been selected from a total number of 100,000 names drawn from Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and America. After the computer ballot of our International Promotions Program, only Ten winners emerged in this category and therefore are to receive payouts of (1,500,000.00 Euro) from the total 15,000,000.00 Euro for Third category winners.

To immediately collect your prize, please contact our Category “C” financial handlers with information below:

You look hard, you read carefully several times, and there’s no hint that you haven’t actually won this “contest”. This has gotta be a scam, you think, but where’s the hitch?

The hitch is that when you contact them to collect your winnings, it turns out that before you can get the money you have to pay them between $800 and $1000 as a “handling fee”. This is substantially the same con as the “Nigerian banking swindle” that was making the internet rounds for months, but dressed up as a legitimate marketing contest. I have won three such contests in the past month–pretty good for somebody who’s never won anything in his entire life except for a couple of $2 Instant-Winner scratch-tickets.

These internet scams are becoming more outrageous and harder to spot by the day. They no longer even bother with the appearance of legitimacy by couching their language in legal-neutral conditionals like American Family and Publisher’s Clearing House–which actually do award their prizes. Now they are so sure they can’t be traced that they tell blatant lies that all but dare you to expose them.

The authorities can’t stop them but maybe we can. Hassle them. Send them return emails demanding that the “handling charge” be taken out of your winnings before pay-out. Threaten them with lawsuits when they don’t answer–because they won’t. Threaten them with lawsuits if they don’t pay up. Follow up with lots of “Where’s my GD money, you &^%*’s?” emails. Overload their servers. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and you’ll be doing your fellow internet users a service.

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