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Email Scam Targets Massachusetts Lottery Players

9 July 2003

MASSACHUSETTS – As reported by the Boston Herald: “In a new twist on an old scam, Nigerian-based e-mail spam artists have used the lure of easy money to trick would-be Bay State lottery players into forking over their personal financial information on the Internet.

“Using a detailed copy of the state Lottery Web site - complete with the state seal and a picture of Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill - the unidentified culprits have promised big payouts in unsolicited e-mails and cellphone text messages containing a link to the bogus site and a password.

“They say the payouts will be made through ``online gambling'' in return for an upfront payment of $200 which they describe as covering the state's `gambling tax.'

“Payment of the tax - which doesn't actually exist - involves giving up such information as credit card numbers, Social Security number, bank accounts and even your mother's maiden name - information the thieves can then use like personal cash machines.

“`We have no idea how many people have been sucked into this but it could very easily be thousands and thousands of people who've been taken for a ride,’' said Karen Scharma, communications director for Cahill whose office oversees the Lottery.

“…The bogus site was still active as of yesterday, but a warning had been posted on the actual state Lottery site.

“…Lottery officials first heard of the mirror-image Web site purporting to be the real thing in May and have since received reports about it from some 200 people from as far away as Australia.

“…`If you haven't initiated the contact yourself, either by placing a phone call or going to a Web site directly, you should not be giving out any kind of information,' spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said. She added that victims of the fake Lottery fraud should contact the FBI by phone or its Internet fraud center.”

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