/ Scams

Scam watch: fake Microsoft ‘covid relief fund’ email

A member of the public received an official-looking email purporting to be from Microsoft, but it’s a scam designed to steal bank details. Here’s how it works.

We were informed when an email was received by a member of the public concerning a Microsoft ‘Covid relief fund’, containing a very official-looking letter branded with the Microsoft logo.

The letter states that the company is giving away $1bn to support Microsoft users across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic.

It says that the recipient has been selected to receive $9.6m, and it requests their full name, age, sex, occupation, address and contact details.

How to spot an email scam

The letter even links to a page on Microsoft’s genuine website, news.microsoft.com.

The vast windfall obviously rings alarm bells. But should genuine Microsoft customers, using products such as Microsoft Office, worry that they’re being targeted deliberately?

Scattergun approach

Microsoft is an ideal cover for the opportunist scammers behind this email. They have the ability to send out millions of emails with one click, knowing that most recipients will have a Microsoft program on their device.

This makes it seem more credible, but it will be a scattergun approach rather than an example of deliberate targeting.

Microsoft wouldn’t need you to submit extensive personal details when you are already its customer. It doesn’t make sense. And anyone can list a link to Microsoft’s website.

Those submitting their details would probably receive follow-up contact demanding their bank account details so they could receive their ‘winnings’.

How to get your money back after a scam

Worse still, their details may be compiled into a so-called ‘suckers’ list’ and sold on to other criminals – meaning victims are deluged with scam attempts for years.

To avoid falling prey to scammers, never respond straightaway to unsolicited requests for your personal information.

Always take at least five minutes to think it through and figure out how to verify what you’ve been told.

Have you received this fake Microsoft email?

Comments
Richard Fitch says:
31 October 2020

How stupid must you be to fall for this ? Just remember the old saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch ” .

Gary Ward says:
31 October 2020

The majority of people you see scammed are not the full shilling

Daniela Provvedi says:
31 October 2020

It’s not being stupid, it’s being trusting.
Isn’t it sad that this world has become so corrupt with terrible, unscrupulous people around.
Gone are the carefree days – we now have to be careful with absolutely every bloody thing!

I don’t think anything has changed Daniela. Bad people have always been around to cheat us. It is the means by which they can do this, and get to us much more easily, that has made scams much more prolific. But, as ever, we have to keep our wits about us.

Peter Edwards says:
31 October 2020

Anybody who thinks that Microsoft might give them $9.6million is stupid!

Peter – That’s where the scammers went wrong. What if the e-mail had said “£2,000”? [Perhaps I shouldn’t give them ideas.]

Daniela, I am in my late 60s. From my childhood, I remember scammers telling elderly homeowners that their chimney or roof needed repair . . . or posing as staff from water-company, electricity or gas company to gain access and rob them. The world was always corrupt and people have always needed to be on their guard.

John H says:
1 November 2020

I fear that terrible, unscrupulous people are created by the vast inequality in our society.
Tackle this and they wouldn’t need to cheat people.

Any ideas, John, on how to tackle inequality in our society? So long as some people strive to better themselves and raise their standard of living there will always be differences. Some are held back by health problems and other hardships which are difficult to neutralise, and obviously there is some way to go in order to ensure equality of opportunity for all, but some people are pathologically criminal or exploitative, heartless and cruel. I don’t think that can be excused away by reference to inequalities because many people with extreme hardships do not descend into wicked exploitation of the mentally, physically and financially vulnerable.

Many wealthy people are unscrupulous and cheat.

Is cheating just a way of life for some people?

Hazel Bonham says:
31 October 2020

My Grandaughter last Thursday warned me of a scam allegedly from the Post Office who failed to deliver a parcel and wanting details to re-arrange delivery. She nearly fell for it!!

Not everybody is aware – or thinks it through – that the Royal Mail has no idea of anybody’s e-mail address and always leaves a “Something for you” card when attempting to make a delivery and no one answers.

The “Something for you” card gives full details of redelivery options which require certain details on the card to be quoted on the redelivery request or to be produced together with ID at a collection point [sorting office or post office].

Jim Hughes says:
31 October 2020

I leant years ago that if anything was too good to be true, it usually is. There are many scams going the rounds and unfortunately many people respond to them, often for greed, and end up with cream on their faces. I reckon that I must receive 20/30 scam emails each week as well as a few scam phone calls. The answer is “NEVER ANSWER THEM” in anyway however good they seem. Keep what you already have safe from these criminals and parasites and be content with your circumstances.

Jim – So presumably your advice to scammers is “Keep it plausible”.

It could be best to let them keep making ridiculous offers knowing that few will fall for them.

DEREK RICHARD MOORTON says:
31 October 2020

I RECEIVED A PHONE CALL SAID IT HAD MY SECURITY PASSWORD I ASKED FOR IT THEY
GAVE ME A PASSWORD IT WAS NOT MINE I TOLD THEM IT WAS NOT MINE AND PUT THE
PHONE DOWN THEN I PICKED UP THE PHONE AND DIALD 1471 AND WAS TOLD THAT
THE NUMBER NOT EXSIST PLEASE READ THIS AND THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU PASS
BANK DETAILS OR SUCH TO ANYBODY OVER THE PHONE
IF YOU WANT TO PRINT THIS IT MIGHT SAVE SOMEBODY SADDNESS

john travis says:
8 November 2020

Derek – please don’t SHOUT! – use the caps lock key on your keyboard!

If you receive a dodgy looking email report it to:
report@phishing.gov.uk
Then immediately delete it without replying.
You get an instant acknowledgement in your email.
Save that address into your address book for future reference.

Anthony Hurley says:
31 October 2020

Tony.
I feel quite sorry for people who are duped into thinking that the world owes everyone a living, but there again there are scum bags who will try anything other than to get a proper job and contribute to the sad world we live in and to make an effort in changing lives.

Joan mckenna says:
31 October 2020

I get about. 10 phone calls a day from scammers, i have a phone which i can press a button on to. Block their number, this lasts about. Two weeks of no calls, after that they are back as bad as ever, now i look at the number, and i dont pick up the phone, a lot of these callers. I think are from. Call centres, we use ourselves to go to for business, or to pay a bill, these numbers. Are. Stored and recorded. From us the public, they can be used at any time by fly bad articles. I say dont answer our. Phone, but elderly very very. Vulnerable indeed, please be care ful

I haven’t had one like this from someone purporting to be Microsoft, but I have received two almost identical emails suggesting that I need to change the password on my Office365 account. Needless to say, I reported to the originating ISP (in both cases this was Microsoft) together with the government phishing service at report@phishing.gov.uk

Christopher Powell says:
31 October 2020

I had a phone call this morning saying I was being billed £79.99 for a year’s Amazon Prime. I should press 1 if I want to cancel or 2 to continue. It was a recorded message which didn’t mention my name or phone number. I put the phone down. I only started using Prime a few week’s ago which suggests the scammers got my details from Amazon. Or they chose a random number and it was just coincidence.

Christopher Powell, I get these automated, ‘plastic people’ messages about Amazon Prime quite regularly. I use Prime quite a bit because I order supplies for our Church Hall and so the first time I heard it, I took it quite seriously, didn’t comply with their wishes, but I told my partner about it and we both laughed when we realised that Amazon Prime is not even in my name, I don’t pay for it, my partner does. It just goes to show how stupid these scammers are, they don’t have any details about me, but they just call, or in this case, a computer programme with a ‘plastic’ computer generated voice does, illegally using a string of numbers, one after the other. Just, please ignore these unsolicited calls or emails, they definitely are NOT in your favour!

Dave Beecham says:
1 November 2020

I regularly get phone calls claiming I am being billed to renew my Amazon Prime account. I don’t have and have never had an Amazon Prine account, they use random numbers and they spoof the number they are calling from.

Plod says:
31 October 2020

I had a phone call claiming to be from Microsoft,saying that my computer wasn’t working,and that they could fix it,I asked them what was wrong,his answer was that he could prove that there was a problem,I said yes there is something wrong I forgot to switch it on that got rid of them hadn’t had another call since.A few days ago I had a call asking is that Mr so an so replied no its the police,all I heard was the phone slammed down.

MICHAEL says:
31 October 2020

I@ve got a very useful filter: if a caller isn’t on my “approved” list, they are asked to give their name and only then does my phone ring. I hear their name and can accept or bar them. This has stopped all the cold calls I used to get.

marilyn says:
31 October 2020

The scammers nowadays are getting very sophisticated — they are evil scum and criminals who should be dealt with accordingly: very harshly. But, watching some television programmes covering scamming scum/s they seem to be dealt with very very lightly: i.e. 103 hours of – community service no matter what their sick crimes are — the law is a real ass sometimes. it’s costing a fortune finding and dealing with these criminals. Some ‘community service’ placements are never checked so the scum will be laughing up their sleeves and they certainly won’t stop. It’s sickening what they get away with – if imprisoned they get 3 square meals a day, kept warm, given all sorts of ‘care and attention’, sports facilities, computer servcices etc etc. — they are better looked after than half our country
—– thinking of becoming a scammer!!!!

beeJaycee says:
31 October 2020

Well done ‘Which’ for running this very useful service. I too have had the Amazon Prime phone call but didn’t respond as I have never used ‘Prime’. With any phone call from an unknown number my technique is to note down the number without answering and then ring it from another phone i.e a land line using the prefix 141which shields your number. Most times the number is unobtainable so is a fake. If it does get through you can ask pertinent questions or deliver abuse as appropriate. It won’t stop them but it wastes their time and allows you to get your own back.

Carolyn Beckingham says:
31 October 2020

I got that Amazon one this morning, also someone asking about my washing machine. I don’t have one, so I told him so and hung up.

Perhaps the best way for us all to deal with this issue is not to ignore it but to respond with a fake name, address, occupation, bank details etc. Swamp them with thousands of replies. The poor unfortunate soul, the one in a thousand, who does fall for the scam will be well protected because the chance of the scammers following up his/her reply is negligible.

Nigel says:
2 November 2020

My son received a recorded message phone call claiming to be from HMRC informing him that he was liable for a substantial fine or jail sentence for non-payment of income tax, “press 1 for further details”. He pressed 1 and was answered by a polite male asking how he could help. At this point my son became wary and put down the phone. He was upset and called me for reassurance. This is apparently another scam as I am told that HMRC will never phone you and certainly will not use recorded messages for such serious matters. Please be aware.

john jones says:
3 November 2020

Scams have gone on since the beginning of time. I remember back in 1945 when I was 5 years old a door to door salesman was trying to sell my mother some very hard to get hold of nicker elastic, I could see he was stretching it and told my mum who sent him packing with a flea in his ear. and told me to go knock on all the neighbors’ doors and warn them soon there were kids running from house to house warning the mothers he slunk off and did not make any more sales in our street. how many sales he made before he got to our house we never got to know as we lived in No 19.
Though too days scams are more complicated and use a lot of technology for instance if you get a telephone call check to see if it is a withheld number if it is then it is a scam especially if it is from your bank etc

Robert Wright says:
27 November 2020

I am 88 and not very technically minded. I got a phone call a few months ago, supposedly from Telecom, saying I would lose my internet connection in 18 days unless I followed their instructions. As I DEPEND on the internet I followed their instructions to do things on different pages until it went on too long so i shut down. I got my “guru” to clean out my machine.

I tend to engage with scammers as it keeps them off someone else’s back for a while. When they check my address I tell them that I’ve moved to somewhere like a caravan on Bogend Farm. I often have to spell it out for them in phonetic alphabet. Then when they ask for the postcode I tell them its Papa India Five Five Zero Foxtrot Foxtrot. They write it down and tell me that their machine does not recognise the code. Must be a cheap machine they have there…………….