Sunday, October 23, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Internet Scams

I realize nobody here is a sweepstaker as I am, but since this sort of scam can be used against those who haven't entered drawings I thought I'd give it some attention. I would have thought that with the publicity given the various scams over the years people would be wiser, but this gal apparently fell for one. Here's what she posted in the "Winner's Circle" forum at Hypersweep the other day:

"I rec'd an email from that I had won some incense and to get it, I would need to pay $6.50 for shipping. It came out on my PayPal a/c and said I could cancel it if I didn't want it, so I canceled. I just didn't need or want the incense to pay the postage for it.".

See anything wrong here? First of all, you should never have to pay shipping on a prize you won. I've won dozens of prizes over the years and have never been asked to pay shipping on any of them, even rather large items like this Alienware computer I'm typing this on.

Second of all, you don't go to PayPal to cancel any supposed prize as she was told to do. If you wanted to "cancel" a prize award, you'd go through the business that sponsored the drawing itself. PayPal shouldn't have anything to do with it unless you'd arranged a payment with some business beforehand.

What happened here, and I told her this in the forum, was she likely received a phishing e-mail. Either that, or maybe an unethical sales attempt, but probably a phishing attempt.

They were trying to get her financial info. They likely provided her a link to the "PayPal site" that was a close enough copy of the real PayPal site she couldn't tell the difference. Once she entered her e-mail address and password, they had it. Now they can access her PayPal account and do whatever they want with it.

Myself and one other Hypersweep member recommended she immediately change her PayPal password, at the very least. She hasn't commented back yet so there's no telling what action she's taken or what damage might have been done.

Oh, and those that were telling me that the $1000.00 I won a few months ago was likely a scam. As I wrote back then I tend to know legit sweeps when I see them. I received my $1000.00 a few weeks later and have since paid off my credit card balance. I was never asked to for any financial info, or asked to pay any shipping or processing fees for that prize.


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