Coalition crackdown on lottery spammers

Yahoo LotteryWhat generally increases when the overall economy declines? That’s right – crime. And these days, when you receive an email that proclaims that you’ve won the “Yahoo! Lottery,” the financially-pressured optimist in you might be more inclined to bite the bait.

Last May, we filed a lawsuit against “Yahoo! Lottery” spammers who use our brand to trick unsuspecting users into handing over personal data to claim a prize. And we’re making progress on catching these scammers, but we’re concerned that they may step up efforts to dupe people impacted by these tough times.

Today we announced a public-private coalition with Microsoft, the African Development Bank, and Western Union to allow victims of lottery scams to upload police reports we can use with the goal of tracking down these devious criminals and developing better ways of protecting people online. INTERPOL has gotten involved to inform international law enforcement agencies about the initiative and provide guidance on critical information to collect to identify trends and common patterns.

Here’s how it works. Yahoo! and the other coalition members have set up dedicated email addresses and Web sites (ours is where lottery scam victims -- those who took the bait and handed over personal information -- can share details of the police report they have filed. These reports may be helpful to other coalition members and law enforcement in fighting lottery scammers.

For readers who spot a scam but don’t fall for it, we have tips for you, too. First off, don’t ever reply to the message, even as a joke. You don’t want to be encouraging these guys. Instead, click the “Spam” button, which helps us and our anti-spam systems block these types of messages and kick these criminals off the Internet. We also have a form you can use to report lottery scams and other kinds of abuse originating from Yahoo! users.

As we’ve said before, no one ever wins the Yahoo! Lottery. And that’s simply because there is no Yahoo! Lottery. We’re on a mission to protect you from these online predators, but in addition to what we’re doing on our end, you can also find some tips on how you can protect yourself on our anti-spam resource site.

Mark Risher
Anti-Spam Czar, Yahoo! Mail