This story was first published on July 26, 2013.
Emails purporting to be from UK lottery winners Gareth & Catherine Bull claim that the couple has decided to give several million pounds to randomly selected people as part of a charity project.
Gareth & Catherine Bull really did win a large lottery prize in 2012. However, they did not send the email and they are not randomly handing out millions of pounds to strangers. The email is an advance fee scam designed to trick recipients into sending money and personal information to Internet criminals.
Subject: Dear friend
My wife and I won the Euro Millions Lottery of 41,000,000GBP(Forty One Million British Pounds)
and we have decided to donate 1,000,000GBP(one Million British Pounds) to 5 individuals randomly
as part of our own charity project.To verify our lottery winnings,please see our interview by
visiting the web page below:
After a computer spin ball,your email address was among the emails which were submitted to us by the
Google, Inc as a web user; if you have received our email, kindly send us the below details so that
we can transfer your 1,000,000.00(One Million Pounds) in your name or direct our paying bank to effect
the transfer of the funds to your designated bank account in your own country.
Send your response to: email@example.com
Gareth & Catherine Bull.
Subject: CHARITY PROJECT CONGRATULATIONS
MY WIFE AND I WON THE EURO MILLIONS LOTTERY OF £ 41 MILLION BRITISH POUNDS AND WE HAVE DECIDED TO DONATE £ 2.5 MILLION BRITISH POUNDS EACH TO 3 INDIVIDUALS WORLDWIDE AS PART OF OUR OWN CHARITY PROJECT. TO VERIFY,PLEASE SEE OUR INTERVIEW BY VISITING THE WEB PAGE BELOW:
YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WAS AMONG THE EMAILS WHICH WERE SUBMITTED TO US BY THE GOOGLE, INC AS A WEB USER; IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED OUR EMAIL PLEASE, KINDLY SEND US THE BELOW DETAILS SO THAT WE CAN TRANSFER YOUR £ 2,500,000. 00 POUNDS IN YOUR NAME OR DIRECT OUR BANK TO EFFECT THE TRANSFER OF THE FUNDS TO YOUR OPERATIONAL BANK ACCOUNT IN YOUR COUNTRY, CONGRATULATIONS.
SEND YOUR RESPONSE TO ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
GARETH & CATHERINE BULL
Subject: Charity project
My wife and I won the Euro Millions Lottery of £41 Million British Pounds
and we have decided to donate £1.5 million British Pounds each to 10
individuals worldwide as part of our own charity project.
To verify, please see our interview by visiting the web page below:
Your email address was among the emails which were submitted to us by the
Google, Inc as a web user; if you have received our email please, kindly
send us the below details so that we can transfer your £1,500,000.00
pounds in your name or direct our bank to effect the
transfer of the funds to your operational bank account in your
Send your response to (email@example.com)
Gareth & Catherine Bull
These emails claims to be from UK couple Gareth & Catherine Bull, who won almost £41 million in the EuroMillions jackpot drawn in January 2012. According to the message, the couple have decided to give several million pounds to people randomly selected via their email addresses. And, supposedly, the lucky recipient of the email is one of those chosen.
The recipient is urged to contact the couple via email to arrange transfer of the money.
But, alas, the email is a scam. Gareth and Catherine Bull are real people and they did win a massive lottery prize. However, the email is certainly not from them. And, they are not handing out millions of pounds based on the random selection of email addresses.
Those who fall for the trick and reply to the email with the requested details will not be conversing with Gareth and Catherine. Instead, they will be talking to online criminals intent on stealing their money and personal information.
Those who reply will soon receive requests for various fees supposedly required to cover banking and transfer costs, insurance payments or tax. The scammers, still pretending to be Gareth and Catherine, will insist that these fees must be paid before the £1.5 million can be transferred. Requests for further fees may continue until victims run out of money or finally wise up to the scam.
Of course, the scammers will keep all of the money sent and victims will never receive so much as a penny of the promised windfall. And, if they have been tricked into supplying sensitive personal and financial information during the scam, they may also become victims of identity theft.
Advance fee scammers often use the names and details of real lottery winners in their fraudulent emails as a means of making their claims seem more believable. Advance fee criminals have also used the names of previous UK EuroMillions winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford. And scammers have similarly exploited the names of Canadian lottery winners Violet and Allen Large.
Some lottery winners may indeed give away part of their winnings to help others. But, it is extremely unlikely that any winner would decide to randomly distribute large sums of money to total strangers via unsolicited emails. Any message that makes such a claim should be treated as highly suspect.