Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith is alerting the public to a recently discovered Internet scam.

A Carmel resident contacted the Sheriff’s Office last week and reported receiving an email message purporting to have been sent by “Microsoft Corporation Sweepstakes Promotion Customer Service.” The message headed, “Official Winning Notification,” informed the recipient that he had won an online contest organized by Microsoft Corporation in conjunction with the Foundation for the Promotion of Software. The prizes ranged from cash awards to laptop computers. It instructed the “winner” to contact the company’s Foreign Transfer Manager, Mr. James Marshall, at a specific telephone number and email address.

A second email allegedly sent from Microsoft and a consortium of software promotion companies announced that they produce periodic email lottery awards, which are “organized to encourage the use of the Internet and promote computer literacy worldwide.” The email suggests that the recipient also won this lottery and that those claiming prizes should do so by contacting Mrs. Anita Hendrix, Promotion Manager.

These email messages were referred to investigators from the Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. They contacted Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in the State of Washington and confirmed that they were bogus and part of an email scam.

The sheriff reminds everyone that scams are frequently sent to residents by email. Recipients should always be wary when receiving such communiqués because they usually lead to unsuspecting recipients losing their identities and money.

He also advised the community never to give any personal information to anyone initiating a request over the Internet, by mail or over the telephone.

“Remember, if you are sent emails containing information that sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” Smith said.

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