Message purporting to be from Google claims that the “email owner” has won eight hundred thousand British pounds in the Google 15th Anniversary Awards.
The recipient has won nothing at all and the email is not from Google. The message is a new incarnation of a long-running scam designed to trick unwary Internet users into sending money and personal information to online criminals.
According to this rather colourful message, the lucky recipient has won eight hundred thousand British pounds in the Google 15th Anniversary Awards. The message claims that the “Anniversary Centre of Google Inc” selected the recipient as one of 20 winners of the award. The “fortunate winner” is advised to send contact details and other personal information to his or her “Claim Agent” to facilitate release of the funds.
But, alas, “Dear Email Owner” is not so fortunate after all, and has won nary a penny. The email is not from Google. The cash prize exists only in the nefarious mind of the scammer who sent the email. The message, along with countless other versions, is designed to fool unwary recipients into sending their money and personal information to Internet criminals.
Those who fall for the email’s claims and contact the bogus “agent”, will be told that they must pay a series of upfront fees before their “prize” can be released. The scammer will claim that the money requested is needed to pay unavoidable expenses such as insurance costs, legal fees, and bank transaction charges.
The scammers will make it clear that these fees must be payed in full before any prize money can be released. If victims ask to pay the requested fees out of the prize money itself, they will be told that such a solution is impossible for legal reasons.
Of course, all of the supposed fees are just as imaginary as the prize itself. And all of the money sent by victims will line the scammer’s pockets. Once he has extracted as much money from the victim as possible, the scammer will disappear without trace, leaving victims still waiting hopefully for their prize money to turn up. Their wait is likely to be very long indeed. As in forever.
And, as the scam ran its course, the scammer may have procured a large amount of personal and financial information from his victims. This stolen information may later be used to steal their identities.
Advance fee lottery scams are very common, and, in spite of widespread publicity, continue to gain new victims every day. Lottery scam messages often masquerade as high profile companies such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook and come complete with stolen company logos intended to make them seem more legitimate. The same Google Anniversary ruse has been reused in such scam campaigns for years on end.
Do not believe any unsolicited message that claims that your name or email address has been randomly chosen as the winner of a large cash prize. Legitimate promotions and awards do not operate in this way. If you receive such an email, do not reply. Do not provide any information about yourself. And do not send any money.