Saturday, July 24, 2010

5 most common types of E-mail Scams

Email Scam #1: Verify your account now to avoid it being closed!
This is a scam email circulating that several Hotmail users have received asking them to verify their Hotmail account. This is a scam designed to gain access to your Hotmail account so spammers can use it to send out spam.

Subject: Hotmail Warning (Verify Your Hotmail Account now To Avoid It Closed)‏‏
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2008 19:28:54 +0000

Dear Account User
This Email is from Hotmail Customer Care and we are sending it to every Hotmail Email User Accounts Owner for safety. we are having congestions due to the anonymous registration of Hotmail accounts so we are shutting down some Hotmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending you this email to so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account.
Due to the congestion in all Hotmail users and removal of all unused Hotmail Accounts, Hotmail would be shutting down all unused Accounts, You will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button, or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons.
* Username: ..............................
* Password: ................................
* Date of Birth: ............................
* Country Or Territory: ................
After following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. We apologize for any inconveniences.
Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his/her account after two weeks of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
How to tell it’s a scam?
·         It asks for your personal information. No legitimate company, especially Microsoft, will ever ask you to provide you username, password, date of birth and/or country, credit card information, etc via email.

·         The email is generally unprofessional or unpolished looking, including:
    o   Notice the branding (logo & background image) on the mail. The header only goes half-way across.
    o   Random words are capitalized in the email, including: Email, Email User Accounts Owner, User, Accounts and others.
    o   In the second sentence, the first word of the sentence, “we” is not capitalized.
    o   There is poor grammar throughout, but especially in the final statement, “Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update…”

·         There is an urgency of response time. This pressures you to feel like you need to make a decision more quickly and do not have time to research the legitimacy of it.

·         Signature is incomplete, stating awkwardly: “The Windows Live Hotmail”, not “Windows Live Hotmail” or “The Windows Live Hotmail Team”.

Two other similar scam emails that we have seen come to Hotmail accounts:
·         Ebay account suspension notices that ask you to verify your account information.
·         Paypal needs you to resubmit your credit card and bank account information.
Email Scam #2: A large sum of money is due to you if you just give us your personal information.
This is actual text from a scam e-mail received, promising $7M to provide personal information.
 “The outcome of the summit has prompted the Federal Government to empower only our Bank; First Bank of Nigeria PLC to Identify the owners of these funds and pay them outright with no delay. We have been asked to start the payment of US$7,000,000.00 (SEVEN MILLION US DOLLAR) as compensation to all affected Persons(Entities)i.e:  Individuals Companies and organizations.
You are one of the Beneficiaries on our list submitted to us so please reply to our mail for confirmation so that we can begin forwarding all other necessary evidences, facts and needed information to you.
The Federal Government has earlier approved the release and payment of the accumulated funds in the Bank belonging to the Foreigners, but my boss Mr Jacobs Ajekigbe and the Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) collaborated together and refused to notify and tell you the truth on how to claim your fund. My Boss and the Governor are using the accumulative-interest to enrich themselves without the knowledge of the owners including you.
Confirm to me your:
·         Personal Information;
·         Phone and Fax Number;
·         Banking Information”

How to tell it’s a scam?
·         Reference to “First Bank of Nigeria” (or any other international sounding bank name), which is a common trick in scam emails.
·         Odd capitalizations throughout the email.
·         How did this government employee find my email address?
·         Why are they randomly giving people $7 M?
·         Why are they airing the dirty laundry of a conspiracy to not tell me?
Email Scam #3: You won something!
Scammers commonly impersonate/use large companies that it’s likely you do business with. This next example appears to be from Microsoft, but it’s not. Read through the email below, to see if you can spot all the ways to tell it’s a scam, and then read through my list of things that tipped me off.

From: Microsoft Promotion Team. (
Sent: Fri 8/01/08 8:00 PM
Microsoft Award Team
20 Craven Park, Harlesden
London NW10,United Kingdom
Ref: BTD/968/08
Batch: 409978E.
Dear Internet User,
The prestigious Microsoft and AOL has set out and successfully organised a Sweepstakes marking the Annual anniversary we rolled out over 500.000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds) for our annual year Anniversary Draws. Participants for the drawswere randomly selected and drawn from a wide range of web hosts which we enjoy their patronage.
The selection was made through a computer draw system attaching personalised email addresses to ticket numbers.Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. Your email address as indicated was drawn and attached to ticket number 080775787555 with serial numbers BTD/0257903122/07 and drew the lucky numbers 04-06-09-90-09-22(07) which subsequently won you 500.000.00  (Five Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds) as one of the jackpot winners in this draw. You have therefore won the entire winning sum of 500.000.00  (Five Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds)The draws registered as Draw number one was conducted in Brockley, London United Kingdom on the 1st of August 2008.

These Draws are commemorative and as such special. Please be informed by this winning notification to Contact your fiduciary agent Mr.Mark Anderson, with the information listed below.

Mr.Mark Anderson
Microsoft Promotion Award Team
Head Winning Claims Dept.

1. Full Names:
2. Home Address:
3. Age:
4. Sex:
5. Marital Status:
6. Occupation:
7. Phone numbers:
8. Country:

Our special thanks and gratitude to Bill Gates and his associates.
We wish you the best of luck.Thank you for being part of our
promotional award program and commemorative Anniversary Draws.

Dr.George Henry.
Head Customer Care Service
Microsoft Promotion Team.

-- --
Saunalahti Ykkönen: Puhelut kaikkiin liittymiin 0,069 e/min ja nyt kaupan päälle Sisärengas-puhelut ja tekstarit viiteen valitsemaasi liittymään 0 e!

How to tell it’s a scam?
·         The “friendly name” that the email is from is “Microsoft Promotion Team”, but if you look at the actual email address it came from (, it’s not a Microsoft address, or a promotion management company.
·         The reply-to address is a gmail address. Microsoft would not use a competitor’s email service as their reply-to address. Additionally, it’s different than the sender address.
·         It is not addressed to an individual. Occasionally, there are legitimate sweepstakes that you’re notified via email, but they will be addressed to you as an individual.
·         The email begins, “The prestigious Microsoft and AOL…” A corporation wouldn’t tout themselves like that. And more likely in a legitimate sweepstakes email winning notification, it would start out with something like, “Congratulations, you have just won…”
·         It asks for your personal information. No legitimate company, especially Microsoft, will ever ask you to provide you username, password, date of birth and/or country, credit card information, etc, via email.
·         It has a foreign language at the bottom of it that is different from the language it was sent in.
Email Scam #4: The sudden emergency!
You receive email that appears to be from one of your friends that says they are stranded and need only a few thousand dollars to help them out.  Any person would help a true friend if they can, right?  Sure they would, but before you respond or act, ask yourself about the likelihood of your friend being in that situation.
·         Have they mentioned that they will be traveling? 
·         Do they regularly participate in the kind of activity described? 
·         Sanity check the information and if at the end you still aren't sure, then pick up the phone and call them.

Today's technologies make it easy to impersonate someone and hard to find out whom is really behind the act. We must all realize that each piece of information we read and act upon has the time needed to pass our logic checks before we respond.  One false click, and it result in you needing to spend time recovering your email, blog, or other service; or it could be months regaining your identity.
Email Scam #5: If you don’t forward this email, something bad will happen.
We’ve all seen emails that promise great things if you forward the email to all your contacts, or threaten bad things if you don’t.  Topics Hotmail customers and friends have asked about most frequently are listed below, and link directly to the articles debunking them:
·        A fee will be charged for Hotmail.
·        Get cash from Microsoft, or other companies or get free items (gift certificates, phones, etc) for forwarding an email.
·        Internet petition to keep Messenger a free service.
·        Medical appeals usually involving injured or sick children.
What should you do if you receive a questionable email?
1.       Investigate the information.
Take some time and check up on the information. Often sites like can provide information on known chain letters and other scams and untruths.  Do not click on links within the mail, but do go to that company’s website, and contact their customer service reps via phone or online to verify the validity of the email.
2.       Report suspicious activities.
If you think someone has accessed your Hotmail account, that the Windows Live ID sign-in page looks fraudulent, or you receive an email that tries to confirm a password change you didn’t authorize, change your password immediately by going to: Next, help ensure your PC has not been infected with a virus or malware by running a free full-PC scan.

3.       Help the Hotmail team identify new scams.
Click on the Junk button in Hotmail and select “Junk” or “Report phishing scam” to report it to the Hotmail team. Whatever you do, do not reply back to the sender.