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Yahoo! Lottery spam hits India

14-November-2005
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Yahoo! Lottery spam hits India

If you receive a mail supposedly from Yahoo! World Lottery, UK congratulating you for winning a lottery prize worth seven million pounds for being a prominent Yahoo! Messenger and Mail user, don’t get flattered! This is the latest spam to hit the Indian cybersphere.

The spam tries to be as convincing as possible by giving you the postal address of Yahoo! Lottery, elaborating the procedure of selection, your cheque reference no and also declaring Lloyds Bank, UK, Citipakcourier and Portlandcourier as the sponsors.

The lottery scam, often called ‘Dutch’ lottery scam, advises to “keep your reference number and batch number from the public, until you have been processed and your money remitted to your personal account” in an attempt to keep the scam out of public scrutiny.

But the procedure followed to cheat is quite typical to such scams. To claim the winning prize, one must first contact the claims department by email for processing and remittance of the prize money, which obviously will follow for a request to pay in advance for the remittance charges without which the cheque could not be transferred to your account.

A simple Googling shows that several people the world over have already received the same lottery spam with exactly the same text feigning to be from Microsoft Word Lottery, UK. Many receivers have got enticed to try it, some have even fallen prey to the trick. (One can check this out at http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=3419).

When contacted, Neville Taraporewalla, Country Head, Yahoo!India, said, “We have a very effective anti-spamguard tool. But one can’t help such misuses. This is a clear case of misuse of the Yahoo! brand name. Our legal team will go through the matter and take all necessary action.”

In recent past, such deceiving spams are pouring into everybody’s mailbox. Some have received a mail claiming to be from administrator@yahoo.co.in stating, “Your e-mail account has been used to send a huge amount of unsolicited spam messages during the recent week” and threatening to seize the account if you ignored the mail.

Another mail from mail@yahoo.co.in informs that you have successfully updated your password and asks you to check an undisclosed attachment. Taraporewalla confirms them to be spams.

When contacted to know what steps an individual, who has suffered from such tricks, could take, cyber law expert Pavan Duggal said, “Our cyber law is seriously wanting to take any stringent measure against such spammers. There is no such thing as Anti-Spam Law in India unlike the Can Spam Act, 2003 of US and the Australian Anti Spam Law.”

Even New Zealand has a very innovative way of tackling such scams by asking Net users to report any potential scam offers which its Ministry of Consumer Affairs will assess for listing on its Scamwatch website.

“In fact, the proposed amendments to the Cyber Law will further water down the law. Previously, hacking was punishable with up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. The new proposed law intends to amend it to one or two years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5 lakh,” Duggal pointed out.

“What India needs is a distinct law on spamming. The liability should be fixed on the ISPs so that they will run effective anti-spam softwares. Most importantly, awareness should be created among users about the necessary precaution to be exercised,” Duggal asserted.

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