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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
West Florida
BBB warns against bogus Facebook Sweepstakes
October 26, 2011

The Better Business Bureau warns that a bogus email supposedly from Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook is popping up in email inboxes. The scam email claims that the recipient is the winner of $1 million in “our 2011 Sweepstakes (Facebook Inc).”

The lottery emails are not from Facebook, and the BBB warns recipients not to click on the link in the email to claim the prize. One possibility: the link could lead to malware – harmful or malicious programs – being downloaded to the recipient’s computer. Or the recipient might receive an email reply from a scammer with instructions to wire thousands of dollars up front as some sort of fee to claim the non-existent prize.

The phony Facebook lottery email continues, “… your details(e-mail address) falls within our European representative office in Amsterdam, Holland, as indicated in your play coupon and your prize of US$1,000000 will be released to you from this regional branch office in England.”

Recipients are asked to click on a link to claim the prize, and are told to keep the information confidential: “For security reasons, we advice all winners to keep this information confidential from the public until your claim is processed and your prize released to you … ANY BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY ON THE PART OF THE WINNERS WILL RESULT TO DISQUALIFICATION.”

There are several red flags that the email is a scam:

· Businesses do not email consumers out of the blue to say consumers have won a lottery prize.

· The names of well-known businesses and individuals are often used in lottery scams to give the impression of a real lottery, even though there’s no connection to the named businesses or individuals.

· Prize winners would not be asked to click on a link in an unexpected email in order to claim a prize.

· The misspellings and poor grammar are signs that the email was not professionally prepared.

· The demand for confidentiality is a ploy to keep recipients from turning to someone they trust for advice, or checking with authorities.

Anyone who receives scam email can report the email to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov. Recipients may also want to forward bogus emails to the business that’s named in the email.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and BBB urges consumers and businesses to guard against online scams.

For tips on avoiding scams, see OnGuardOnline.gov at http://onguardonline.gov/topics/avoid-scams

Businesses can learn about protecting data by visiting Data Security – Made Simpler at http://www.bbb.org/data-security/