Lotto winnings, cell phone registry, outsourced tax preparation and envelope stuffing: Internet ScamBusters #107
We end this year with a final Q&A session:
- Are these lotto winnings real?
- Will my cell phone number be given to telemarketers if I don't register it?
- Are there dangers of having my tax return preparation (unknowingly) outsourced by my tax preparer?
- Is there any envelope stuffing mailing that is real or are they all scams?
- Did I throw free cash in the trash when I deleted this email from Microsoft?
Let's answer these questions...
Internet ScamBusters Q&A
Question: I signed up to your newsletter because I received an email that said I won a lotto prize of $2,500,000 out of 25,000,000 among 50 winners. There was no money requested at any time until they needed to send the check for winning the lotto games, which requires $577 for insurance shipping, etc.
If you could, as I have no other way to check the validity of this award, would you tell me if the following is legitimate?
Below is the information I received and responded to, and now I am asked to send the funds to have my check sent. I read your article(s) on sending money, so that is why I am asking you for your estimation on whether this is actually legit or another scam. (Text of lotto email deleted)
I did enter the lottery, played countless times over the last six or seven months everyday, so that is why I am wondering if it could be real. I am not one who didn't play and just received these notifications - I actually played many lotto games online, so I need to know.
Thank you in advance for any assistance.
Answer: It is a scam. If you had truly won, they wouldn't be charging you anything. They would simply send you a check. They would pay for insurance, etc.
Question: I've heard that you must register your cell phone before January 1, 2005, to prevent your number from being given to telemarketers. Is this true?
Answer: No. There is a hoax going around that says that on January 1, 2005, all cell phone numbers will be given to telemarketers. Since many people pay per call or per minute even when they receive calls, this is particularly disturbing.
One remedy suggested in the email hoax is to list your cell phone on the National Do Not Call Registry. This won't help now, but it probably won't hurt either.
There is, however, a proposal to create a Wireless 411 service. You can read more about this here.
Question: I've heard that there are a number of tax preparation companies and CPA firms that (unknowingly) outsource tax returns, and that there can be a problem with tax returns prepared in India. Can you explain this?
Answer: Sure. Some tax advisors and practitioners, including some CPA firms, are in fact outsourcing the preparation of tax returns to countries where labor is cheap, including India.
Although the tax practitioner who signs your return still does have primary responsibility for the accuracy of their work, there are some risks to you.
Perhaps most significant is that your very private information is being transmitted to a country where the risk of identity theft is higher. Safeguards to ensure your privacy may also be more lax in some firms and some countries.
60 Minutes profiled an Indian tax preparation firm that appeared to have the necessary safeguards in place.
Action: Ask your CPA or tax preparation firm where your tax return will be prepared. If you are dissatisfied with the answer, take your business elsewhere.
Question: Is there any envelope stuffing mailing that is real or are they all scams?
Answer: Every one we've seen is a scam.
Envelopes can be stuffed very inexpensively using technology. The maximum you'd earn actually stuffing envelopes manually (for a very small job where it didn't pay to use technology) is probably minimum wage.
Question: I recently got an email wanting me to copy and paste the letter and send it to everyone in my address book. The email said Microsoft was doing a survey, and you could get thousands of dollars if you replied while they were doing this survey.
It said Microsoft was tracking this and so forth, and Mr. Gates has money to throw away!
Of course, I immediately deleted the email thinking it was a scam. I hope I was correct, and didn't throw free cash in the trash! Anyway, you probably already know! Keep up the good work.
Answer: You did NOT throw free cash in the trash. 😉
There are many variants of this email, but they are all hoaxes. Here's one of the Microsoft hoaxes.
We wish you all the best for the holiday season, and a very Happy New Year.