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Phone Text Message Lottery Scams

by Brett M. Christensen

Last updated on August 1, 2017

Outline

Phone text (SMS) messages claim that the recipient has won a substantial sum of money in an online lottery or promotion.

Brief Analysis

There are no prizes and the lotteries or promotions mentioned in the messages do not exist. The messages are lures used to entice recipients into replying to scammers and sending them money and personal information.

Example

From Google Promo (GOOGLEPROMOASIA) +1 517-826-4723
Congratulation! Your mobile # won 1 MILLION USD in the GOOGLE PROMO.Send Name,Address & Winning Pin (US42W7) to [Address removed]Text back to chat OR reply “!leave” to exit

 

Example

“Congratulations! Your mobile number has won the sum of $1,000,000 in our Atlantic Mobile Lotto. Contact us via email on [address removed] for claim.

 

Example

Your mobile Number has WON £1, 615,000 Million Pounds in Apple iPhone UK. Ref No:NK115G. For claim Email your name, Country & Occupation to:
freeappleiphone@w.cnSMS Lottery Scams

 

Detailed Analysis

Advance fee scammers now commonly use phone text (SMS) messages as well as email and social media messages as a means of gaining new victims. These unsolicited text messages claim that the recipient’s mobile phone number has been selected as the winning entry in a lottery or promotion. The texts claim that the “lucky” recipient has  won a substantial sum of money or, in some versions, a valuable prize such as a car. To claim their prize, recipients are instructed to reply, call or email via contact details included in the message.

In reality, the lotteries or promotions mentioned in the text messages do not exist. There is no prize. The promised prize is simply the bait used to entice recipients into contacting the criminals responsible for the scam. Those who fall for the ruse and make contact as instructed will soon be asked to send money, ostensibly in order to allow the release and transfer of the supposed prize. The scammers will claim that this money is required to cover expenses such as tax, legal, insurance or banking fees. They will insist that these fees cannot be deducted from the prize itself. If a victim complies and sends the first fee requested, the scammers will invent other “expenses” that must be paid in advance before the prize can be handed over. Requests for money are likely to continue until the victim belatedly realises that he or she is being conned or, in some sad cases, simply runs out of money to send. During the course of the scam, the victim may also inadvertently hand over a substantial amount of personal and financial information, supposedly as a means of proving identity and allowing transfer of the “prize money”. The scammers may subsequently use this information to steal their victim’s identity.

Advance fee lottery scams are certainly not new. Like other types of advance fee scam, they have been around for many years. Advance fee scammers use a variety of methods to reach potential victims, including email, surface mail, fax, social networking and, as in the versions discussed here, SMS. The scammers often claim that the prize or promotion is connected to a high-profile company such as Google or Microsoft. The scammers use the names, and, sometimes, the logos and trademarks of such companies without permission as a means of making their claims seem more legitimate. In other cases, the scammers may claim that their scam message is from a real lottery entity such as the UK’s National Lottery. Again the scammers use the names and details of these lottery entities without their permission or knowledge.

People need to be very cautious of any unsolicited message that claims that they have won money or a prize in some form of lottery or promotion that they have never even entered. Be wary of any message in any format that claims that your name, phone number or email address has been randomly selected as the winner of a substantial prize. Genuine lotteries do not operate in this manner. If you receive such a scam message, do not reply or respond to the scammers in any way.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer