Microsoft, Yahoo!, Western Union and the African Development Bank (ADB) have teamed up to help educate Internet users about the continuing threat from fake lottery e-mails.

The new anti-scam alliance was announced earlier this week at the 6th German Anti Spam Summit in Wiesbaden, DE.

Spam e-mails claiming the recipient is the winner of an off-shore lottery were among the first widespread online social engineering scams and have continued to plague the Internet for years. Unwitting recipients are told they must provide financial details, often including bank account numbers, so their winnings can be electronically transferred to them. Of course, there isn’t really any lottery, much less any winnings. The bad guys use victims’ banking information to take money out of their accounts rather than putting any in. And, because the bad guys almost always transfer victims’ money to foreign countries, there’s no way to track them down and get it back.

The ADB is involved because many such scams have originated in, and continue to operate from, developing African nations such as Nigeria.

Just over two per cent of almost 5,000 Internet users polled in a recent Microsoft global survey reported they had lost money in e-mail lottery scams and similar online frauds last year.

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