New T-Mobile and credit union lottery scams
Won a prize in a lottery or prize draw you never entered? This old scam has reappeared, with the credit unions and T-Mobile being used to try to dupe victims.
In common with literally millions of others, I have a phone contract with T-Mobile. It works well, the monthly fee is competitive, and the folk who work in my local shop (now part of Everything Everywhere) are attentive to my needs. Now, I know that's inviting Lovemoney readers to inundate me with T-Mobile misery memoirs – any organisation has a percentage of angry customers - but I'm happy enough.
Still, I did not not think my happiness merited comment, let alone any reward. I was wrong.
This week, a lady called Lisa in Hong Kong emailed to inform me I had been chosen from all those millions of T-Mobile customers as one of only five people to be awarded a special T-Mobile end of year prize consisting of £5 million in cash.
A £5 million cash prize!
Here's what Lisa wrote (with no apologies for the tortured English):
We hereby wish to inform you, you are in a cash prize of £ 5,000,000 won UK Promo finance, T-MOBILE AWARD UK END OF YEAR PROMO, we collect all email addresses of people that are active online, among the millions that subscribed to the Internet, we only select five people every month as our winners through electronic voting system without the winner applying, we congratulate you, that you one of the people selected.
Contact Mrs. Debra Kim. For more info on how to claim your prize.
Thank you and accept my hearty congratulations once again!
Ms. Lisa More.
Of course, the whole thing is absolute nonsense. T-Mobile does not dish out £300m a year to anyone via a couple of apparent women (they're possibly men as using female names breaks down male resistance) in Hong Kong or anywhere else.
This is simply a variation on the phoney prize win letter where you are told you have won a huge sum in a draw for a non-existent lotttery or in a real one where you didn't buy a ticket.
Lottery letters were common in the middle of the last decade but seemed to have disappeared. But like all good scams, they have resurfaced with perpetrators hoping potential victims have forgotten previous warnings.
The scam spreads to credit unions
Those hoping to make money from this racket do not know that I have a T-Mobile contract, any more than they know whether the recipients of
another phony lottery letter, ostensibly aimed at credit union members, are involved with the low cost non-profit loan organisations.
This week, ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd) told credit union members not to respond to scam emails informing them they
have won prizes in a so-called national credit union lottery.
There is no such lottery. Emails from www.culottery.co.uk, claiming that they have won prizes in a national credit union lottery are a complete nonsense.
This site lists a large number of UK credit unions, none of which have
anything to do with it.
It also claims it is registered with the Financial Services Authority, and sponsored by Russian gas and oil giant Gazprom, the Big Lottery
and Western Union. Needless to say, none of these organisations has the least involvement – the site has simply stolen their logos, and
put in links to their genuine websites.
The site of CULottery – CU presumably stands for credit union - is illustrated with photos of alleged winners. These are actually doctored pictures taken from the Connecticut State Lottery website. The site itself is registered to a Chinese person using a City of London address to which he had no rights whatsoever – the building belongs to a massive US bank.
Local credit unions can run lotteries but there is no national lottery. And even if there were, it would not behave like this.
ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “Members replying to the emails are likely to be asked to provide bank details and risk identity fraud and theft if they respond to requests. I would advise anyone who receives an email saying they have won a prize or requesting any information to contact their credit union and not respond to the email.”
Even worse, victims will be encouraged to spend ever increasing amounts on “legal fees” and “custodian expenses” to “enable the prize to be released”.
Britain’s credit unions manage nearly £800 million of savings for over one million people, and have over £600 million out on loan. So if a scamster can get even a tiny fraction of that, it's a lot easier than working for a living!