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Lottery fraudsters exploit 070 personal numbers

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Crooks running email lottery scams are exploiting 070 personal numbers in a bid to trick users into thinking they are dealing with people in the UK.

Lottery scams, a low-rent variant of advanced fee frauds made notorious by Nigerian email fraudsters, typically promise a recipient is in line to receive a large cash prize, in a bid to either trick people into disclosing private bank details or handing over fees to secure non-existent rewards. The latest scam emails, detected by net security firm Sophos, contain a contact phone number.

British 070 numbers are the second most commonly used telephone numbers in these scams, behind US-based telephone numbers. These 070 numbers appear like mobile phone numbers but are easily redirected to any number anywhere in the world. In addition, 070 numbers can be acquired for free, as higher charges are paid by the caller to use them.

The numbers have numerous legitimate users but for fraudsters they represent a way to quickly and cheaply acquire multiple phone numbers, all of which redirect to the same mobile phone or landline.

"Internet scammers are scooping up these free 070 personal phone numbers, redirecting them overseas and posing as British lottery officials. They can easily cycle through a bunch of these "throw-away" numbers, using them to con innocent victims into revealing confidential information that can then be used to empty bank accounts and commit identity theft," Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said.

Nobody wins a lottery before paying to participate so users should be extremely suspicious of any email that tells them otherwise, he added. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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