SMS Advance Fee Prize Scam

Mobile phone SMS claims that the recipient has won a major prize in a rewards promotion and should call a specified number to find out further details.


JAPAN INTENATIONAL MOTORS: you have WON toyota prado VX 4WD worth 110000US$ dollars,in GLOBAL internate rewards promotion,call Mr.Nick on [number removed] now!

Detailed Analysis:
Scammers are quick to use any means at their disposal in order to steal money from their victims. Long before the arrival of the Internet, advance fee scammers operated via surface mail and telephone. Email and the World Wide Web have made their tasks much easier. And fraudsters also use other modern technologies, including the Short Message Service (SMS) communication protocol on mobile phones.

Except for the means of distribution, the above scam attempt is basically the same as thousands of other prize advance fee scams that are sent via email. The scam SMS claims that the recipient has won an expensive 4DW vehicle in a global “rewards promotion” and instructs him or her to call a specified number to claim the prize.

However, neither the prize nor the supposed promotion actually exists. The SMS is simply the bait used to fool potential victims into contacting the fraudsters responsible. If a recipient does take the bait and reply, he or she will be asked to pay an upfront fee, supposedly to procure the release of the prize. The scammers may claim that the payment is to cover, insurance, delivery costs, legal fees or any one of a plethora of other bogus excuses. If the victim pays the first of the requested fees, other payment requests may follow. Of course, all of the money sent by the victim will be kept by the scammers. The victim will never receive the “prize” nor is he or she likely to get his or her money back even if the police are eventually notified.

The scammers may also trick their victim into supplying a large amount of personal information that could be subsequently use to steal his or her identity. People should be very cautious of any SMS, email, fax, or surface mail message that claims that they have won money or a prize in a lottery that they have never entered.

Some unscrupulous companies have also use “prize winner” SMS messages or phone calls to trick users into making expensive premium rate calls, supposedly to claim their prize. Although these premium rate schemes are not related to the advance fee scams described above, and may not even be illegal, mobile phone users should certainly be aware that responding to some prize calls or SMS’s could very rapidly rack up sizable phone bills.

Last updated: 14th November 2008
First published: 14th November 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
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