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'Microsoft Facebook Yahoo Windows Live Award' Advance Fee Scam

Outline
Message claims the recipient has won £650,000 in a prize award organized by Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Windows Live and should contact the "fiduciary agent" to begin processing of the prize claim.

Pound sign

© Depositphotos.com/ lineartestpilot



Brief Analysis
The message is an utterly absurd attempt to trick gullible recipients into sending their money and personal information to Internet criminals. There is no money and no winners. Although rather lame, the scam attempt is quite amusing.

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Example

Detailed Analysis


According to this message, the lucky recipient has won a whopping £650,000.00 based on the random selection of his or her email address online.  Supposedly, the award was organized by British Microsoft working in conjunction with Facebook, Yahoo and Windows Live.

The recipient is asked to send personal details to a listed "fiduciary agent" in South Africa to claim the unexpected windfall. The message comes in the form of an abysmally formatted .pdf attached to a "notification email". Of course, the message is a scam. In fact, it is so transparently a scam that one would hope that even less experienced users would quickly ascertain its true nature.   

It is a scam so obvious that it hardly needs to be analysed at all. But, it is such a poor attempt at advance fee scamming, that it is actually rather amusing and contains some inherent entertainment value. Hence my discussion here.

The listed companies certainly have not decided to work together as claimed. Perhaps in some strange alternative universe, that may actually happen. This is not that universe. And, given that Windows Live comprises a collection of services and software that is owned and operated by Microsoft, its inclusion in the list of participating companies is in fact rather redundant.

Moreover, one would think that, with all that combined technical expertise at their fingertips, they might manage to create a winning notification document without distorted and pixelated images. Perhaps such experts could have avoided creating a document that was so amateurishly rendered that it hurts ones eyes to gaze upon it?

Alas, having worked in this area for more than a decade, what silliness people will actually believe no longer holds any surprise for me. There are perhaps some who will actually fall for the scam and reply as instructed. Those that do will quickly be asked to send a series of payments, ostensibly to cover various unavoidable expenses associated with the pending release of the prize money. They may also be tricked into sending the criminals a good deal of personal and financial information. The money will disappear into the scammer's pockets and the information may be used to steal the identities of victims.

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Last updated: November 6, 2013
First published: November 6, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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References
Advance Fee Lottery Scams - International Lottery Scam Information