Are you already a winner?! Um, no, you aren’t.
It’s hard to believe, but some people really do think they can get something for nothing—like winning a lottery they didn’t even enter. While most of us routinely discard every CONGRATULATIONS! notice that shows up in our e-mail inboxes, there are apparently a few gullible souls out there who believe that they have somehow hit the jackpot.
Especially when they see the BMW logo.
For years—at least since 2005—these scams have been circulating. The setup is now familiar: You receive an e-mail informing you that you have won a prize. This congratulatory e-mail is allegedly sent by “the BMW Security Department,” or “the BMW Lottery Department,” located in Great Britain, the Netherlands, or Canada. Many of those e-mails depict BMW Group trademarks, thereby making them look authentic—at least to the unwary—but alas, it’s just another Nigerian scam.
“These communications do not originate with any BMW Group company, nor from any authorized company affiliated with BMW,” says BMW. “After more than a year of investigation, BMW has determined that the vast majority of these e-mails are being sent from a server in Nigeria, which unfortunately is beyond our legal reach.”
The BMW Lottery scam has many numerous mutations—too many to list on the BMW website. However, the bmwusa.com consumer website contains a scam alert.
And while it may be painful to realize that nobody, not even BMW, is going to send you a pile of money for winning a bogus lottery you didn’t even enter, please do not add to the e-mail congestion by informing BMW of the scam: They already know about it. Believe me, they know. But there’s nothing they can do about it, either.
Next week, I’ll let you in on the sad truth about the Easter Bunny.—Satch Carlson