Spamming is so competitive and widespread, it might as well be an Olympic sport.
Finally, it has unofficially become one. It’s time for women’s boxing to take a back seat.
According to USA Today, even at the start of the Summer Games, the organizers had recorded 124 different scams, and the most common ones included e-mail to consumers alerting them that they’ve won an “Olympic lottery”.
According to London2012.com’s Stay Safe Online section:
We are aware of cases where emails are sent falsely claiming to be from London 2012, or other organisations involved in the Games, but that are actually the first step in a fraud scam. They typically encourage the recipient to reveal information such as bank details or to part with money as an up-front payment in order to release a prize….Some common scams include:
- Emails/letters informing the recipient they have won an ‘Olympic lottery’ that they haven’t entered.
- Emails/letters to manufacturing companies, asking them to pay large fees in order to provide items for the Games.
- Emails/letters informing the recipient that they can apply for a job being involved with the Games for a fee.
Trend Micro — as part of the Digital Joneses project — has asked its participating families, including mine, to consider spam and email scams in lieu of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games.
Of course, spammers are slime and one of their most common strategies is to ride the wave of large immersive, news-driven events. The Olympics just happens to be one of them. While there’s nothing new or unique about Olympic spam, Trend Micro’s spam detection tips are still good to keep in mind:
Poor Grammar and Aesthetic: Spam and scam tend to include poor grammar and poor design and layout. (A great reason to know grammar and design principles in the digital age — so you recognize junk!)
Free Email Domains: Spammers and scammers often use free email domains instead of valid and recognizable ones.
Missing or Multiple Recipients: When emailing recipients in bulk, spammers often will BCC many people, resulting in an empty TO field. Or they may include many people in the TO field.
Shady Greetings: Spammers often will get your email address but not your name, so they’ll greet you generically (i.e., “Dear Lucky Winner!) or fail to greet you at all.
Announce You Winner: If you’re reading this email from me, you’re lucky to receive my advice. However, very few people are lucky when it comes to winning lotteries or contests or card games. If you’ve been designated a winner, most likely you’re really being tested on whether you’re a sucker. Spammers will try to trick you by using the name of legitimate companies or lottery organizations. But like I said, you may be a lucky person, but almost nobody wins lotteries.
Seeking Personal Info: I guess there are people who either live under rocks, or lose common sense. If anyone asks you for personal details like full name, bank information, credit card numbers, nationality, country or passport number, then you need to hit the “Mark As Spam” button in your email client.
Prize Fees: Spammers also tempt their victims by asking them to pay processing fees, delivery fees, transfer charges or even travel to personally get their prize.
In addition to practicing common sense and recognizing spam patterns, I would also recommend using an email client with a strong spam and fraud prevention system, like Gmail. Of course, no technology or service provides 100% protection, but I’ve found Gmail to work very well. Almost no spam makes it into my email inbox.
Fascinated or scared? Check out Trend Micro’s Race To Security website for more resources.
Disclosure: The Digital Joneses Study occasionally includes loaned or provisioned gadgets and gear.