E-mail lottery scams spreading

The number of e-mail lottery scams is increasing fast, according to identity theft website Fraudwatch International.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  May 12, 2004

The number of e-mail lottery scams is increasing fast, according to identity theft website Fraudwatch International. The Australian based site claims that last month alone it received over 1,000 variations on e-mails that tell recipients they have won lottery prizes. Fraudwatch claims this figure is twice the number of ‘phishing’ schemes (internet scams involving the theft of financial information) it recorded over the same period. According to Fraudwatch International, consumers across the globe are receiving lottery related e-mail messages and , after giving over passport or driving license details to prove their identity, paying to have their winnings released only to then discover that the whole thing is a fraud. "If it wasn’t working, the number of e-mails wouldn’t be increasing," warned FraudWatch managing director Trent Youl. This lottery warning follows security firm Network Associates’ recent declaration that phishing incidents themselves are on the rise around the world. Patrick Hayati, regional director of Network Associates in the Middle East, claimed that Middle East users are especially vulnerable to financial data theft, partly because countries in the region have some of the highest per capital income figures in the world, making them attractive to fraudsters, and partly due to IT awareness in the region not yet being highly developed. "A majority of the population has only recently converted to Internet usage and thus many not be familiar with the anti-virus, content filtering and anti-spam solutions available," said Hayati. A recent Windows Middle East feature covering current security threats and the best ways users can protect themselves found that security experts across the region all agree on some crucial security tips, namely that users should install, use and regularly update anti-virus software, should never reply to any type of spam e-mail, and should not, under any circumstances, open e-mail attachments that they have not been expecting (even if these are from a trusted friend or colleague).

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