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Home ScamsAdvance Fee Scams Advance Fee Scam – Facebook 2011 Sweepstakes Online Lottery

Advance Fee Scam – Facebook 2011 Sweepstakes Online Lottery

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Message purporting to be from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, claims that the recipient has won $1,000,000 in the Facebook 2011 Sweepstakes online lottery.

Brief Analysis

The message is certainly not from Facebook. In fact, it is a scam designed to trick recipients into sending money and personal information to criminals.

Example

Subject: Facebook Lottery

Facebook Inc.
1601 S. California Ave.
Palo Alto
CA 94304
United States.

This is to inform the bearer that You have won the sum of $1,000,000.00(One Million US Dollars) OUR 2011 SWEEPSTAKES (Facebook Inc ) This is a bonus to promote our users worldwide through this online lottery, which is fully based on an electronic selection.

We hereby approve you a lump sum of $1,000,000.00(One Million US Dollars) in Cash Credit File- ILP/HW 47407/02 from the total cash prize for eight lucky winners in this category.

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE: Simply contact your Fiduciary Agent Name – Marc Andreessen E-mail address – facebookwin2011@live.com

Please quote your reference, batch and winning number which can be found on the top left corner of this notification as well as your full name, address and telephone number to help locate your file easily.

Thank you for using www.facebook.com
Yours faithfully,
Mark Zuckerberg
Online coordinator for Facebook
Online lottery
www.facebook.com
—–

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this email, which purports to be from none other than Facebook founder himself Mark Zuckerberg, the recipient has won the sum of one million dollars in the 2011 Sweepstakes lottery organized by Facebook.

The message claims that the winners were via an electronic selection system. The lucky winner is instructed to contact the “Fiduciary Agent” in order to claim the prize.

However, the email is certainly not from Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook and the claim that the recipient has won a million dollars is a lie. In fact, the email is a typical advance fee lottery scam designed to fool unwary users into sending their money and personal information to Internet criminals.

Those who fall for the ruse and contact their assigned “Fiduciary Agent” will soon be asked to send upfront fees that are supposedly required to allow the release of the – sadly nonexistent – prize money. The scammer will claim that the fees are required to cover a range of entirely imaginary expenses such as insurance premiums, banking fees, delivery charges, taxes and legal costs. The scammer will insist that, under no circumstances, can these fees be deducted from the prize itself, supposedly due to legal or insurance constraints. Further requests for fees may continue until victims run out of money or finally realize that they are being scammed.

In some cases, the scammers will also ask their victims to supply a large amount of personal or financial information, ostensibly as a means of verifying identity and their right to claim the “prize”. The scammers may be able to harvest enough information to allow them to steal the identities of their victims.

Advance fee lottery scams such as this have been around for many years. Although the most common vector for such scam attempts has generally emails, advance fee scammers also use SMS, fax, surface mail and messages sent via social media as avenues for reaching potential victims. Advance fee scammers often hijack the names of high profile people or entities – in this case “Mark Zuckerberg” and “Facebook” – as a means of making their false claims seem more believable. Other advance fee lottery scams have falsely claimed to be from MicrosoftGoogleYahooFIFA, and the IRB, just to name a few. Other Facebook versions of the scam have also been distributed in recent months.

Despite widespread publicity about such scams, many people around the world still fall victim to them every day. If you receive a message claiming that you have won a large prize in a lottery or promotion that you have never entered, it is quite likely to be an advance fee scam.

Be very wary of any claims that your email address or name was collected online and randomly selected as the winner in some prize draw that you have never heard of. This is not how legitimate lotteries or promotions operate. If you receive such a message, do not reply or contact the “agent” as requested. Do not follow any links or open any attachments that may come with such messages.  

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Brett Christensen