World Cup scams: an early kick‑off

Amazingly, it was way back in 2011 that I came across my very first World Cup 2014 scam. Surely that merits a prize, or at least a pay-rise?

Amazingly, it was way back in 2011 that I came across my very first World Cup 2014 scam. Surely that merits a prize, or at least a pay-rise?

It seems that I might have missed a trick, PR-wise. In the run-up – or should that be warm-up? – to the World Cup, it seemed for a while that security bloggers and journalists were falling over themselves to be the first to report soccer-related scams and malware.

And in fact there have been some useful and interesting cup-related posts: I particularly liked World Cup scams: team tactics to keep you safe, in which ESET’s Gastón Charkiewicz offered some handy generic advice with a humorous soccer-it-to-me flavour.

But now it’s my turn to fall over myself. In the true spirit of the World Cup, I shall be lying on the floor and clutching my knee and yelling hysterically “Ref! Ref! Foul! I wuz robbed!” Or at least pointing out that I was miles ahead of the pack in reporting 2014 World Cup scams. (Sorry,  that’s a rugby metaphor, but we didn’t play soccer at the school I attended in the 1960s and I was running out of soccer tropes.)

It was way back in 2011 (no, really…) that I came across my first Brazil 2014 football scam. At the time, ESET was providing articles for SC Magazine’s Cybercrime Corner, and in one of them I described a 419 lottery scam that looked something like this.

From: Me
Sent: 29 April 2011 11:25
Subject: See attachment for your winning information!!

Yep, that’s it, apart from the sender’s apparent address, which I’ve deleted, and the attachment, which was worth a look in its own right. However, I haven’t been able to show the whole thing here since that email has expired, and I can’t find the original document or the screenshot I included in the article. (It was several laptops ago!) The original article is still lurking on the SC Magazine website, but the screenshot is too small and blurry to read properly for a somewhat myopic gentleman of my advanced years.

So here’s a summary rather than a literal transcription of the text of the screenshot.  I don’t suppose we’re missing anything essential.

Euro Afro British Lottery Promotion
This message is from Angela C. Elvis Coordinator
[I’d have thought Elvis was beyond being coordinated by this time, being All Shook Up for the very last time in 1977, but I digress…]
Brazil 2014 world cup lottery program 2014 World cup

Dear Lucky Winner

Lucky Winning Notification
[Wow! A double helping of luck!]

We happily announce to you the result of Brazil 2014 World Cup [unreadable] Lottery Award International program held in South Africa. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number [unreadable, but it was a loooooong number…] with serial number 97540 drew the winning [a load of numbered lottery balls, including a bonus ball, apparently] which subsequently won you the lottery award in the second category.

And so on…

At first glance, all this might have looked moderately convincing to someone less cynical than myself. It included a slightly distorted version of the FIFA 2014 official emblem, and lots of reassuringly long reference numbers that I apparently needed for contacting the Fiduciary Agent, who it seems had a South African telephone number and a email address. In fact, apart from the logo, this “Euro Afro British Lottery Promotion” didn’t seem to have much to do with Brazil at all.

Nevertheless, the “Brazil 2014 Worldcup Lottery Programm” (sicI guess we couldn’t decide whether we were going for English or US spelling and went for an unusual compromise…) apparently had 32,000,000 pounds to give away to people who hadn’t even bought a ticket. Since  I received the news via a little-used AVIEN administrator account, I was worried that I might have to share my 800,000 pounds with the rest of AVIEN. But of course all these reference numbers and other flim-flam were just window dressing, making the scam sound more impressive and somehow convincing so that I’d give them my money.

But I didn’t choose to play ball.

Sorry! Just give me my prize for being first in the race to recount a World Cup 2014 scam, and I’ll saunter back to the pavilion. Oh, wait a minute. that’s a mixed metaphor borrowing from athletics and cricket. Never mind, Wimbledon starts this week. But I’m afraid I haven’t seen any tennis scams so far.

David Harley
ESET Senior Research Fellow

PS: The featured image is a slightly adapted Wikimedia Commons picture showing a mob football scene at London’s Crowe Street. Originally drawn in the year 1721 and in the public domain. 

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