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Microsoft, Yahoo team up against lottery hoax e-mails

The tech firms are forming a coalition to educate consumers on the dangers of those nasty hoax e-mails that try to get financial information out of people.

You know all those hoax e-mails that arrive in your in box saying that you've won a lottery? You don't click on them, obviously, but many people do, enough to prompt Microsoft and Yahoo to form a coalition to warn consumers about the scam.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Western Union, and The African Development Bank are partnering to educate Internet users about the dangers of falling prey to the fake lottery winner e-mails.

In such scams, victims are told that they have won a lottery, often in a foreign country, and are then asked to provide their personal and financial information to claim the winnings. In the current economic downturn, the fear is that desperate people will be more likely to take the bait.

The announcement of the coalition, made at the 6th German Anti Spam Summit in Wiesbaden, Germany, coincided with the release of Microsoft-commissioned research on lottery scams in Europe.

Of 4,930 people surveyed, 113 people reported losing money to an Internet fraudster in the last year. Twenty-seven percent of Internet users surveyed predicted they would become a victim of a lottery scam and more than half said lottery scam e-mails scared them off from buying things online.