FBI warns of phony lottery email scam

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you surf the internet, there is another warning to tell you about. A letter is circulating, and responding to it could cost you your identity and destroy your credit.

So far there are no reports of anyone falling for this phone letter and authorities want to make sure that it stays that way.

The email going around is designed to fool the reader that they have won a large amount of money and that someone is trying to claim their prize. Investigators say using a little common sense could save you from a big headache.

The bogus email has the FBI logo on it and is signed by an agent. It says that a bank has a cash prize of $8.4 million waiting for you.

Identity Theft expert Paul Huffstutler says, "The claim in the email is somebody has attempted to come in and claim the estate or the winnings in your stead."

The fraudulent email even includes a copy of the person's passport supposedly trying to claim your money. It goes on to say the bank needs you to provide personal information for verification purposes.

Huffstutler says, "They are really just soliciting your information so they can make an attempt to run a scam on your credit, that is how they are preying upon these victims, using their sense of anger or entitlement people get agitated saying no, that's not me, let me give them all the information I can so they know it's not me so that the money can come back to my account because I need it."

What may be even more interesting is the email doesn't ask for your social security number. But police say criminals can still get their hands on your social in other ways if they have enough personal information about you.

Huffstutler says, "They can enter into new lines of credit, the worst case I always see is people getting second mortgages on their homes that they don't know exist." When it comes to these types of phony emails, common sense is your best defense.

Huffstutler says, "If you have won a lottery that you never entered into in the first place there is no lottery."

Another red flag, the email is full of misspellings and it's poorly written, the FBI says if they need to notify you on an investigation, they won't ask for any personal information by email or phone.

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