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10 Jan 2006

Bogus Volkswagen lottery scam offers million pound prize and a brand new car

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned internet users of a spam campaign which pretends that the recipient has won a lottery sponsored by the Volkswagen motor company in an attempt to defraud computer users.

The messages claim that recipients have been chosen for a £1,000,000 prize and a brand new VW car. The emails say that the user has been randomly chosen from over 250,000 email addresses around the world. It then urges recipients not to tell anyone else of their win, but to quickly contact a prize transfer agent for further instructions. A phone number and email address is given for people to contact if they believe the bogus message that they have actually won the enormous windfall.

Sophos researchers believe that the emails are a variant of the commonly-encountered "Letter from Nigeria" scams, also known as 419 Advanced Fee Fraud, that fool innocent users into believing that a large amount of money will be transferred into their bank account, but are really designed to steal information about the user's bank account or demand a "handling fee" for the money transfer.

The scammers are sending out bogus emails claiming £1,000,000 and a brand new car has been won

The scammers are sending out bogus emails claiming £1,000,000 and a brand new car has been won.

"This email scam campaign has stolen the name of one of the world's most famous car companies in its attempt to steal people's money and identities. Unfortunately, rather than driving off into the sunset with a wad of cash on the passenger seat, computer users who fall for this trick risk handing confidential details about themselves into the hands of fraudsters," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Anyone who responds to these emails will never collect their prize money, or find a brand new VW car sitting on their driveway."

Sophos reminds users to be wary of unsolicited emails, and has published information about how individuals can learn how to protect themselves against this and other online scams.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.