Last updated on August 1, 2017
Phone text (SMS) messages claim that the recipient has won a substantial sum of money in an online lottery or promotion.
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.
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
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.