This lottery could hurt your wallet | india | Hindustan Times
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This lottery could hurt your wallet

SURABHI SAMYAL (name changed) got an e-mail in her yahoo mail account saying that she was among the first five winners of the International British Lottery. The fairly long letter looked authentic, with a somewhat genuine address of London along with several mobile numbers to contact.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2006 13:54 IST

SURABHI SAMYAL (name changed) got an e-mail in her yahoo mail account saying that she was among the first five winners of the International British Lottery. The fairly long letter looked authentic, with a somewhat genuine address of London along with several mobile numbers to contact.

The prize money was astronomical. At the first instance Surabhi thought that some one could be playing a joke. On re-reading the letter, she thought that it could be some heavenly pouring. So she dialled the international number and the phone number existed.

“I want to check the authenticity of your lottery,” she asked the person to which he scoffed, “How can you think of such a thing. It is a lottery funded by the British government. We have a legal attorney of Britain acting as a mediator to help in seeking your claim.”

The voice sounded genuine and Surabhi decided to send a reply. She got a mail from some attorney saying that three forms had to be filled for claiming the money. The forms appeared simple and were not extracting any ‘major’ information like bank details.

However, to prevent any complication, Surabhi decided to contact her BBC friend in London and asked about the authenticity of the lottery.

Her friend advised her not to even open such mails because they could be laced with ‘spy cameras’ with which they could distill out details of bank transactions or credit card use.

Surabhi was saved but there are several gullible people who could get swayed by the ‘handsome amount’ and then get cheated. Psychologically also, one gets triggered to try one’s luck.

“We Indians are very spiritual-minded and can also welcome such monetary gains as a blessing from God. They see no harm in communicating with the scamsters”, says Dr Jamal Akhtar a psychologist.

Inspector General (Indore Zone) Shailendra Srivastava, who was in-charge of the State Cyber Crime Cell says, “Lottery scam emails are increasing at an alarming rate. Most people want their winnings transferred into their bank accounts. This involves upfront fees for taxes, insurance or even legal fees. The victims blindly transfer money as requested”.

The lottery scam started with Nigeria and then shifted to other countries. “The best way is to avoid opening such mails. Why should you get a lottery when you have not even purchased a ticket?” he asks. Another type of ‘lucrative’ mails could be from unknown person, mostly from South Africa, saying that you had been picked up to inherit his property worth a gargantuan amount.

Such mails are also fraudulent and should be forwarded to scams@fraudwatchinternational.com. Conceding that cyber crime was on the rise in India, Shrivastava cited the example of a person in Khandwa who sold some software to a ‘cyber friend’ in Uganda.

The Rs 5-lakh cheque that he got as payment turned out to be fake. He had to cough out Rs 5 lakh to prevent being jailed. Srivastava said that about six cyber crime cases in Madhya Pradesh including one fraudulent mail sent to former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh were traced during his tenure.

So next time you find a lottery or a ‘monetary gaining’ mail in your account don’t start dreaming on building a mansion or buying a Mercedes. Be vigilant and keep your ‘wired mouse’ away from it.