How to spot fake emails like "Donation From Lottery Winner"

Also Known As: Donation From Lottery Winner scam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "Donation From Lottery Winner"?

After reviewing this email, we found that it was sent by scammers who aim to extort money and (or) information from recipients. It is disguised as a letter from someone who supposedly won a lottery and is willing to share the prize with others. Recipients should ignore this scam email.

Donation From Lottery Winner scam email

More about the "Donation From Lottery Winner" scam email

Scammers behind this letter pretend to be Thomas Yi Mega, who recently won a substantial amount in the Powerball jackpot. They claim that this person is willing to share his good fortune with the community by making generous donations to randomly selected individuals.

They state that the recipient of this letter has been chosen to receive 4 million dollars. In order to accept the donation, the recipient is prompted to respond to the provided email address (bisah958@gmail.com).

Typically, scammers behind such scams aim to trick people into sending money (e.g., paying an "administration" fee) or personal information in exchange for a large sum of money. People who fall for such scams never receive any money. On the contrary, they lose money and (or) become victims of identity theft or encounter other problems.

Threat Summary:
Name Donation From Lottery Winner Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim The recipient has been chosen as a winner of 4 million dollars.
Disguise Letter from a Powerball jackpot winner.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Similar scam emails in general

Scammers behind scam emails usually try to obtain credit card details, ID card information, social security numbers, login credentials, or other information and (or) extract money from unsuspecting recipients. They pretend to be real people or legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities.

Examples of scam emails are "New Security Features Email Scam", "Fund Transfer Assistance Email Scam", and "Thank You For Shopping With Apple Email Scam". Cybercriminals also use email to lure recipients into infecting computers with malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Threat actors who use email to deliver malware seek to trick recipients into downloading and executing malware by themselves. They send malicious files or links to pages hosting malware. Examples of files used to distribute malware are malicious MS Office, PDF documents, archives, JavaScript, executables, and ISO files.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Avoid opening links and files in irrelevant emails sent from unknown addresses. Emails of this kind could contain malware. Download software from reputable sources such as official pages and verified stores. Do not click ads displayed on questionable websites.

Keep the operating system and installed software updated. Never use third-party tools to update (and activate) any software. Use reputed antivirus software. Scan a computer for threats regularly. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Donation From Lottery Winner" email letter:

Subject: Donations

Greetings to you,

I am Thomas Yi Mega, A Resident of Land O' Lakes, Florida, USA. W0n $ 235.4 milliion in the Powerball jackpot and the Monney has transformed my l I f e.

After proper consultation with my family and advisers, I have decided to do some good work for the community by donating some amounts to randomly selected individuals for the good of our community. In regards to this generosity, we want you and your family to be as joyful as we are Happy, So on behalf of myself and my family we have decided to make a donation of $ 4,000,000(Mi11ion) U S do11ars to you and your family you can also reach out to those in need in your community.
Your email was randomly chosen and you are very lucky as you are the recipient of the highest amount we are giving out. P l e a s e make sure you use these funds for judicious purposes. Be assured that you stand no risk as this is my m0ney,

Even after matching a l l six numbers, I was in disbelief and took my ticket to a retailer to have it checked when I found out that I have w0n. I am making this donation as a channel of giving back to the community and I hope you will help spread the hand of generosity to others in the community after getting your donation.
This donation of $ 4 mi11ion is made out to enable you to strengthen your personal issues and generously extend hands of help to the less privileged, orphans and charity organizations within your locality.

Kindly Forward your message of acceptance to: bisah958@gmail.com

Best Regards.
Thomas Yi Mega

Another example of a spam email claiming that the sender is going to donate millions of dollars:

Donation From Lottery Winner email scam variant (2023-02-09)

Text presented within:

Subject: God is with you


I am pleased to get across to you through email, I got your email address in Internet while browsing after I decided to contact you as my spirit lead me to do so, I might not know your present conduction and what you are going through in life but I believed that this money will be of good help to you and your family, I am Mrs Lerynne West I am a native of New York City, United State of America, I share among individual around the world because money is not everything in life, I may not know you, but I believe if you receive my first email and respond back meaning you were chosen to receive my donation of [$1,300.000.00 USD] which will be transfer to you as soon as you respond back to me now, I am a Christian and I believe that Good things happens to good people like you who had the mind to respond back to my mail. This is not a scam as you think.This is for real and i give you my 100%
guarantee because am not here for games

I won $343.900,000 Million Dollars Jackpot in New York and I decided to make sure my winning is put on the internet for the world to see as you could see from the web page here CLICK HERE TO WATCH ME NOW ;

After taken care of the needs of our immediate family members, we decided to donate the remaining of the fund to other individuals around the world in need, the local fire department, the Red Cross, hospitals and some other organizations in Asia and Europe that fight cancer, I would love to introduce my self more and also show you picture of me and my family but firstly I want to hear from you if my gift of [$1,300.000.00 USD] is accepted by you before I proceed.

Send me back the DONATION CODE by responding back to this email  , I shall send you more emails as soon as I get the donation code back from you

Thank you for accepting our offer, we are indeed grateful. We anticipate your earliest response.
Best Regard
Lerynne West

Yet another example of an email from "Donation From Lottery Winner" spam campaign:

Donation From Lottery Winner email scam (2023-10-03)

Text presented within:

Subject: Greatings


Greetings to you,
I am Mr. Roy Cockrum, I decided to make my donation to Charity
and Individuals as God has lead me to and i told some Ministers
about this which they said was a welcome idea and promised they
will get me a list of some people that my donation will help
their lives and put smile in the face of the needy, I decided to
select myself by going to Microsoft/Google to make research.

I won the largest Powerball jackpot ever in Tennessee lottery
history, be assured that you stand no risk as this is my money,
for source and verification read more about me by clicking this

Based on the win we decided that just 100 people be selected for
this benefit, leaving each beneficiary with $372,000 each to
better their lives because we can't enjoy it all alone, as the
win is for sharing.

May the Good Lord bless you.
E-mail: roycockrum@roycockrumfoundation.xyz
© Roy Cockrum Foundation

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

As a rule, such letters are not personal. Scammers send the same letter to everyone (all recipients receive the same email).

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?

If you have provided login credentials (e.g., usernames and passwords), change all passwords immediately. If scammers have obtained your credit card details, ID card information, social security number, or other details, contact corresponding authorities as soon as possible.

I have downloaded and opened a malicious file attached to this email, is my computer infected?

Malicious files do not always infect computers immediately after opening them. It depends on the file type. For instance, malicious MS Office documents infect computers after enabling macros commands.

I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in such email, can I get my money back?

Unfortunately, crypto transactions are irreversible. Therefore, it is impossible to retrieve transferred crypto funds.

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

It is safe to open emails without opening links or files in them.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Combo Cleaner will scan a computer for threats and remove detected malware. This app is capable of detecting almost all known malware. High-end malware usually hides deep in the system. Thus, computers must be scanned using a full system scan to eliminate such malware.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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