Wealth and fame are no protection against falling for online lottery scams as Asha K Shetty found out recently. The serial TV actress from India paid out thousands of dollars to a lottery scammer who used some sophisticated trickery to snare the unwitting star.
Despite the well-known pitfalls of responding to unsolicited emails promising big cash prizes for a nominal “processing fee”, hundreds, if not thousands of people, fall for the scam, apparently blinded by the prospect of winning lots of cash.
But the overwhelming majority of these lottery scam victims are either too young, or, increasingly, too old to know the difference. So how does a big-time TV star get caught in the web?
According to Asha K Shetty, she received an anonymous text message last month claiming she’d won Rs 5.5 crore (roughly one million dollars) and needed only to open a new account with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and pay a 60,000 Rupee fee (about $1200).
She did that and then was asked to participate in an online conference where she was duped into paying about a thousand dollars more. Of course, no prize existed and Shetty lost all the money.
Reporting the crime to the police doesn’t seem to be helping as the cyber crime squad has their hands full and are probably focused on breaking up the rings who perpetuate this latest version of an old scam. It even appears the police privately believe Shetty should have been too smart to fall for this gag, which is so old, it’s got whiskers.
Maybe there’s a new TV pilot in the offing? It would certainly be quite an educational tool. After all, how many TV stars actually answer anonymous text messages?
Apparently, one too many…