SA Lotto – Scam or media nightmare?

UPDATE: 16 Feb 2010 (13h50 SAST) – click here for details
UPDATE: 16 Feb 2010 (18h05 SAST) – click here for details

Lottery tickets are something I don’t buy very often, in fact, very seldom, and often just on a whim, spend a little if you win you win, if you don’t, well, better luck next time. To those who religiously buy tickets twice a week for each and every draw I feel sorry for them as they’re paying ‘a poor man’s tax‘.

This past Sunday the media announced that only one person had bought a valid ticket with the winning numbers, which meant that one person held a ticket for R91 million.

In a press release Dr Bongani Khumalo, chairman and CEO of National Lottery operator Gidani said: “One incredibly lucky lottery player has finally won Friday’s gigantic R91m PowerBall Jackpot in the lottery game which gripped the imagination of the nation for weeks and weeks while the six winning numbers proved elusive.” – source IOL

Then, early Monday morning the media announced who the winner of the R91 million was (stupid mistake number 1).

… a deaf and mute cleaner at a hardware shop in Wynberg, won over R91m in the national lottery’s PowerBall game, reports an Afrikaans daily.

The family are reportedly now staying at an undisclosed location after being approached for money. – source IOL

Why post the name of someone who won the latest lottery? Even less so a deaf mute? From whom did they get the winning ticket holder’s details from? And if he’s a deaf mute, did he even give them permission to publish his details? Then later in the day the following report was published.

The Cape Town family who won R91-million in Friday night’s PowerBall draw has been spirited away, apparently by employees of the National Lottery. – source IOL

It’s no surprise then that all the vultures come out to take advantage of a family who’ve just been named as the winners of a huge lottery win.

Then this morning (mistake number 2 – can you say back-pedal, back-pedal) the media (and the lottery company) announce that the winner claimed by the media is in fact NOT the lottery winner.

… a Cape Town cleaner, isn’t the winner of the PowerBall jackpot of over R91m, says the National Lottery Board, a report says.

However, Board chief executive Vevek Ram says that someone else won the prize, and wishes to remain anonymous. – source IOL

Am I the only cynical one that thinks something smells really wrong about this? Why the denial all of a sudden? Is the lottery in South Africa rigged (surely not?), is this a PR/media nightmare that they’re trying to get themselves out of (and failing dismally)? Was there really even a winner? If the family named in the media are not the winners, how long will it be before they’re no longer hounded by the vultures out there who want a piece of their, alleged, financial freedom?

What do you think?

UPDATE: 16 Feb 2010 (13h50 SAST)

It would appear that one or more journalists did not do their job correctly. As it has now come to light that the alleged winner’s winning lottery ticket numbers are indeed those drawn BUT are in fact not for the R91m draw but tonight’s draw instead.

… a deaf man from Parkwood, has a PowerBall ticket with Friday night’s winning numbers on it. But while the numbers match up, the date is for tonight’s draw.

The Cape Argus’s examination of the ticket shows that the numbers match up to Friday night’s winning numbers, but the date at the top of the ticket reads “First draw – 16/02/2010”, suggesting that the ticket is only eligible in tonight’s draw. – source IOL

I guess my media nightmare heading might still hold true because it seems people have jumped the gun in more ways than one as seen here:

[his] rags-to-riches story has seized South Africa’s attention, prompting the Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, to issue a statement congratulating the family.- source IOL

Not sure whether or not the statement has in fact been issued by Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya yet but it would be a media nightmare if it has.

What’s that saying: Don’t count all your chickens before they’ve hatched.

UPDATE: 16 Feb 2010 (18h05 SAST)

Now, almost two days after the fact, it would appear that all the blame lies with the person who claimed to have had the winning ticket (but for the wrong draw day).

National lottery operator Gidani on Tuesday said it was battling to understand why a Cape Town man claimed to have won a Powerball jackpot of more than R91 million.

The real winner, a 43-year-old wife and mother of two also from the Western Cape, had the millions handed over to her on Tuesday. – source EWN

And in one of the polls run by IOL today they asked readers whether or not they would want their name made public if they had won the lottery or not. Only a small number voted Yes:

Of the 978 people who participated in the poll; 97 percent (952 votes) said “No” and 3 percent (26 votes) said “Yes”. – source IOL

In related news a couple in the UK found out that they won £56m in the local lottery.

The couple, who would make around &pounds;47 000 a week in interest if they banked all their jackpot, said they were confident that the huge win will not spoil their children.

The family plan to move from their £235 000 three-bedroom semi in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, to a six-bedroom detached, ideally with a pool. But they want to stay in the same area where their children enjoy school and have lots of friends. – source IOL

Phishing Scam Site: MSN Block Checker (oh-oh-oh)

It seems a fresh new phishing/scam website has emerged. Apparently you put in your MSN/Hotmail/Live credentials in and it will tell you how many of your contacts have blocked you. It looks like this:


I’m very suspicious of these types of sites especially when I receive a link to it from an old Hotmail contact whom I’ve not had contact with in years. And although it might look legitimate due to the MSN logo and familiar MSN icons – a quick WHOIS check on the domain reveals something different:

 Registrant Name:         Oxana V Eskova
 Registrant Organization: Oxana V Eskova
 Registrant Street1:      ulica Kostromskaya d.6 kv.21
 Registrant City:         Voronezh
 Registrant State:        Voronezhskaya obl.
 Registrant Postal Code:  394014
 Registrant Country:      RU
 Updated Date: 13-sep-2009
 Creation Date: 13-sep-2009
 Expiration Date: 13-sep-2010

So, be warned, tell your friends not to use the site to put in their credentials because their account will almost certainly be compromised (as will their contact list).

Nigerian 419 scam turns on itself

I just received an email titled “Stop Contacting These People”. What’s this all about you ask. Well, I’m sure you’re well aware by now of the various Nigerian 419 scams where people receive emails telling them that they’ve been listed as beneficiaries of large sums of money or would like their help in transferring funds out of the country and in doing so will be compensated very well financially. 

Well today’s email intrigued me a bit and you’ve got to give it to them, quite clever and will also catch just as many (if not more) people out.

The jist of the email is to warn you about these email scams where you’re told to pay over some administration fees and then you’ll be given your share of the total money being moved. However, you never hear from them ever again or see a dime! And this “woman” gives her full name and residential address and tells people how she was swindled out of money and made a concerted effort to contact the relevant authorities and even went over there to sort this out. Here’s the clincher, she mentions seeing your name and email address on a list of beneficiaries which is why she is contacting you to let you know the “correct” and “safe” channels to use to get your share of the money, right!

See transcript of the email below – you’ve been warned.

Attn: My Dear,

I am Mrs Mary Susan Derrick, I am a US citizen, 48 years Old. I reside here in New Braunfels Texas. My residential address is as follows. 108 Crockett Court. Apt 303, New Braunfels Texas, United States, am thinking of relocating since I am now rich. I am one of those that took part in the Compensation in Nigeria many years ago and they refused to pay me, I had paid over $20,000 while in the US, trying to get my payment all to no avail.

So I decided to travel down to Nigeria with all my compensation documents, And I was directed to meet Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson, who is the member of COMPENSATION AWARD COMMITTEE, and I contacted him and he explained everything to me. He said whoever is contacting us through emails are fake.

He took me to the paying bank for the claim of my Compensation payment. Right now I am the most happiest woman on earth because I have received my compensation funds of $1,500,000.00 Moreover, Mr James Badmus, showed me the full information of those that are yet to receive their payments and I saw your name as one of the beneficiaries, and your email address, that is why I decided to email you to stop dealing with those people, they are not with your fund, they are only making money out of you. I will advise you to contact Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson

You have to contact him directly on this information below.

Name : Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson
Phone: +234 802 739 4935

You really have to stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them, it is not in anyway with them, they are only taking advantage of you and they will dry you up until you have nothing.

The only money I paid after I met Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson was just $580 for the paper works, take note of that.

Once again stop contacting those people, I will advise you to contact Mr. Henshaw I. Anderson so that he can help you to Deliver your fund instead of dealing with those liars that will be turning you around asking for different kind of money to complete your transaction.

Thank You and Be Blessed.

Mrs. Mary Susan Derrick.

I've been named as an heir

I just recieved this email in my inbox – I can’t believe my lucky stars,it must be true:

Get Back To Me For More Details.

We wish to notify you again that you were listed as an heir to the total sum of Ten Million Six Hundred Thousand British pounds in the codicil and last testament of the deceased. Name now withheld since this is our second letter to you. We contacted you because you bear the surname identity and therefore can present you as the heir to the inheritance.

We therefore reckoned that you could receive these funds as you are qualified by your name identity. All the legal papers will be processed in your acceptance. In your acceptance of this deal, we request that you kindly forward to us your letter of acceptance; your current telephone and fax numbers and a forwarding address to enable us file necessary documents at our high court probate division for the release of this sum of money.

Please contact me via my private email so that we can get this done immediately.

Kind regards,
John McGowan Jr.

It still amazes me that there are gullible people out there that fall for these scams. Not that I got the alleged, first email, but clever that they left out the surname, since I’d been notified before.

Credit card scams and hoaxes

credit-cardsOn Wednesday, the last day of 2008, I recieved an email from a friend regarding a credit card scam affecting Visa and MasterCard holders. Now, I’ve been using the Internet for over 15 years now so I’ve seen most of the scams and hoaxes out there, which has made me scpetical about a lot of things I recieve via email – always taking them with a pinch of salt. 

It outlines a case of someone having been scammed by being allegedly called by a security department representative of Visa or MasterCard informing the caller that they’ve noticed irregular transactions on the card-holder’s credit card and want to verify some information. They don’t ask you for any information in the beginning, in fact, they provide you with all your correct information, like address, credit card number, expiry date, etc, which they already have and to make the call sound more legitimate. Then the only piece of information they ask you for, so that they can “confirm it” are the 3 security digits (CVV2/CVC2) printed on the back of the card.

Now, this is where the scam comes in and this is the only other piece of information they need to make manual (card holder not present) transactions without your knowledge.

If the scam is believable, which it sounds like it very well could be since there’s so much identity theft out there already, you should be cautious and worried. 

However, just do a quick search on Google for “credit card fraud scam visa mastercard phone” and you’ll come up with over 46,000 results. Notice, I didn’t add the word “hoax” to the results, yet your top results are sites like HoaxBuster, Hoax-Slayer, Sophos and Snopes

Snopes, is usually my first port-of-call when I get these types of emails – yes, this one is plausible (just look at the Snopes article and you’ll see why), but since neither MasterCard nor Visa provide actual statistical information or corroboration of this, it remains a hoax.  

It’s just like all those our 411/419 type scams out there, just use your head and a little bit of logic, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Fake Antivirus/Anti-Spyware Software

For the veteran Internet users and software developers like myself this may not be a surprise but to newer Internet users or people not too familiar with spyware and malware out there take care! First there were innocent viruses that would just popup at a specific date/time or randomly with an annoying message. Then they became malicious and wrote destructive viruses, deleting/infecting files and with the increase use of the Internet spread them like wildfire through email.

There are numerous amounts of phishing scams out there already but now they’re targetting the unsuspecting user by offerring tools to rid your machine of viruses and spyware. Unfortunately, this is the very software you may unsuspectingly be downloading and installing thinking you’re protecting yourself, while in-fact, putting yourself in harms way instead. There are now tonns of fake antivirus and spyware removal tools luring people to download and install them but leaving themselves open instead. These fakes will alert you to viruses that don’t really exist and keep pestering you to purchase the software to “effectively” remove them. All you’re doing in the end is spending money on useless software and leaving your machine, possibly, more infected than it was before.

How do they lure the unsuspecting user? Often with popups on websites you visit claiming that your PC may be infected and that you should act now by downloading their antivirus/spyware removal software now. Take my advice and stick to reputable sources for antivirus and spyware removal tools and don’t trust these freebies/free-trial offers from vendors you don’t know/trust. If in doubt, ask a friend, or a friend of a friend who may be in the know.

The ones you can trust are the ones who’ve been around the longest – and more often than not you can protect yourself without spending a fortune, or anything! I have been using, and will continue to use, Grisoft’s AVG Free edition antivirus software since it’s original release back in the 90’s and I’ve yet (knock on wood) to be infected. Regular daily update checks and daily scans (including realtime scanning) ensures my machine(s) are kept safe. If you’re using a company machine they’ve probably got some commercial version of antivirus software installed like Trend Micro, Microsoft Forefront, McAfee Antivirus, AVG Internet Security, etc.

Click here to see an example of fake antivirus software (Antivirus2008 Pro) which looks legitimate.

There’s a page that’s been updated by it’s auther since 2004, containing a list of rogue anti-spyware software out there that will infect your machine and offer no help whatsoever. Looking at the list can be scary but it just go to show how vigilant you need to be and how important it is to protect yourself and get help from someone who knows if you don’t. 

You can read up more on this on posts/sites like the following:

Want to know more about AVG and how to set it up on your own PC and starting protecting yourself from virus now? Head on over to a great “how-to” guide on the How To Geek website now.

HP Printer Cartridges Expiring


Okay, first-off let me begin by saying I’m NOT an HP fan, never have been and never will be because I think their printers are overpriced as most definitely are all their consumables. I’ve always been a Canon fan, and there’s very little out there that will sway me. Don’t even get me started on the crap Lexmark produce regarding printers.

Note that this isn’t actually anything new if you’ve been using HP printers for the last 5 years or so but since a friend has come across this problem I thought I’d share the info with you.

Right, now to the matter at hand. If you’re an HP printer owner, that uses ink cartridges (not laser toner), then you’ve probably seen an error message/light on your printer console which denotes the specific ink cartridge(s) has(have) expired. Now unbeknown to many HP printer users is that expired does not necessarily mean empty! That’s right, you may have inadvertently thrown away (or worse, I’ll get to worse in a second) your apparently empty cartridge because your HP printer told you it had expired.

But my printer won’t use it anymore if it’s expired and won’t let me print either until I put in a new one?

Wrong – most HP printers have a BIOS powered by a battery which stores the number of hours since that cartridge was first put in – irrespective of the number of times you’ve printed and what amount of ink was used on those prints. There is a finite number of hours that can elapse until your HP printer will tell you that the cartridge has expired. Which means you may have inadvertently thrown money in the trash with cartridges that weren’t really empty yet.

Oh, remember earlier I mentioned, “or worse”? Here’s the worse part: in some countries HP provides you with self-addressed and stamped envelopes for you to return your “empty” ink cartridges to HP for “recycling”, which means they can re-use and re-sell your cartridges again (and quite possibly make use of the unused ink left inside).
[Update 14 August 2008Here’s what HP really do with returned ink cartridges]

If you just do a quick check on Google you’ll find easily 135000 links relating to the above topic. If you want, simply add your printer model as well to see if others with your model have come up with the same problem and provided solutions but they should be pretty much the same.

As a quick start I’ve added a few links below for you to look at:

Here’s hoping this can save you a few $$$ and put a few less into HP’s pockets.

[Update 14 August 2008 – Here’s a page on HP’s website which you can see which printers and cartridges have the expiration date feature and whether or not it is overridable through the printer software.]

{Update 4 November 2007 – Lifehacker have just posted an article on “Is your printer wasting your ink and money?” which may be worth a read as well on the same topic as above.