Letters and emails from foreign companies, which trick people into losing money, have recently been circulating in the Algarve and Lisbon. A survey conducted by DECO proved that most scam emails are based on real people and actual facts. However, the survey showed that not every email or letter requesting help, is necessarily a scam, according to the Association, some are real cries for help.

A hoax email that has been circulating MSN hotmail accounts of users in Portugal has claimed that a three-year-old boy is currently in hospital, suffering from Leukaemia. It says that the boy will only survive if he gets a blood transfusion of type B Rh immediately. The email gave his name and which hospital he is in. After several people turned up at the IPO in Lisbon to donate their blood, a press release was issued by a spokesperson from the hospital, which stated that there was indeed a boy with the same name, diagnosed with Leukaemia. However, the Portuguese Blood Institute said that the child never needed blood.

More scam mayhem: In a further incident, an AFPOP member informed The Resident that he recently received a letter which claimed he had won thousands of euros. The letter, from a Spanish company, La Primitiva Loteria Y Apuestas, said that his name had been entered into a lottery ballot of 25,000 names from all over the world by Santa Lucia Seguros, S.A, and that he had won 16,621,340 euros. However, the letter then went on to say: “Due to a mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this award from public notice,” until the money has been claimed and deposited into the recipient’s bank account.

The letter provided a telephone number to contact and a deadline by which to supply bank details. When contacted, the person on the other end of the phone confirmed that he was in charge of the lottery company, but would give out no further information until he had received the bank details. This same letter has apparently been sent as an email to people across the world.

In a separate incident, several people have received an email from CitiBank, stating: “Recently there have been a large number of identity theft attempts targeting CitiBank customers. In order to safeguard your account, we require that you confirm your banking details. This process in mandatory, and if not completed within the nearest time your account may be subjected to temporary suspension.”

The email also provides a link to where you can enter your bank account details. A further series of emails, apparently from CitiGroup, have also been in circulation from technical service provider, Smith Barney, also requesting the reader of the email to use the link to provide bank account details.

A spokesperson from CitiCorp commented: “Every internet user should know about spoof emails that appear to be from a well-known company, but can put you at risk. Although they can be difficult to spot, they generally ask you to click a link back to a spoof website and provide, update or confirm sensitive, personal, information. To bait you, they may allude to an urgent or threatening condition concerning your account.”

Don’t be gullible: DECO advise that all internet users should be aware of spoofs when they receive emails requesting passwords, pins, credit cards validation code (CCV), ATM/debit or credit card number, social security number and/or bank account number.