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Scammers Use The Names of Lottery Winners Cindy and Mark Hill

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Emails purporting to be from US lottery winners Cindy and Mark Hill claim that you have been selected to receive a donation of $950,000 from the couple. 

Brief Analysis

The Hills really did win a large lottery prize in 2012. However, they did not send these emails and they are not randomly giving away large sums of money to strangers via the Internet. The emails are typical advance fee scams designed to trick you into sending your money and personal information to cybercriminals

Example

Hello Friend,

I saw your email address during the course of my research today. This is a personal email directed to you and i Hope you get this one. I am Mrs Cindy Hill from Missouri, my husband and i won in a Power ball jackpot Lottery in November 2012 and i voluntarily decided to donate the sum of $950,000.00 dollars as a part of my own donation project to improve the lot of five lucky individuals all over the world. You was a lucky recipient and all you have to do if you get this email is to get back to me so that i can send your details on how to receive the money. Note that you have to contact my private email for more informations (mrs_cindy41@yahoo.ie). You can verify this by visiting the web pages below. (link removed)

 

Detailed Analysis

In 2012, Missouri couple Cindy and Mark Hill took home $136.5 million after winning a Powerball lottery jackpot. Ever since, advance fee scam emails using their names have been distributed to inboxes around the world.

The fraudulent emails claim that you have been randomly selected to receive a large cash donation from the couple. You are instructed to contact ‘Cindy’ via email to start the process of claiming your unexpected windfall.

But, of course, if you do reply, you will not be talking to Cindy or Mark. Instead you will be starting a dialogue with a criminal intent on stealing your money and personal information.

Soon after making contact, you will be asked to wire money, ostensibly to cover costs such as insurance, legal, and banking fees. You will be told that these fees must be paid upfront and cannot be deducted from the ‘donation’ itself. And, the scammers will warn that, if you do not send the money, your donation will be given to somebody else instead.

If you do send the requested fees, you will likely receive even more demands for money.

And, the scammers may also trick you into providing them with a large amount of your personal and financial information, ostensibly so that your identity can be verified and payment of your ‘donation’ can be arranged.

But, alas, you will never see a return on any of the money you have sent. And, of course, you will never receive the promised donation. When the scammers have extracted as much of your money as they can, they will simply disappear. Subsequent emails and phone calls will go unanswered.

And, to make matters worse, the scammers may be able to use the information they have harvested to steal your identity. Or, they may sell your information to other criminals who will use it to commit identity theft and financial fraud.

Scammers regularly use the names of real lottery winners in advance fee scam messages. Be wary of any email that claims that a lottery winner has decided to give you a large sum of money based on the selection of your name or email address.

Many lottery winners are quite generous with their money and may well give portions of it away to charities, family, and friends. However, any message that claims that a lottery winner is giving away stacks of money to total strangers via the Internet is almost certain to be a scam.

If you receive one of these messages, do not reply. Do not click any links or open any attachments that it contains.



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