Monday, July 24, 2006

Heineken Scam

Or, look before you reap. Last week, an odd e-mail cropped up in my Junk folder. It was from Heineken, the beer in the green bottle…so I opened it. This e-mail said I was the lucky winner of a “football pool” (= soccer for US readers) promotion run by Heineken in the UK. As a result, I soon would be receiving the magnificent sum of 385,000 British pounds.

One quick trip to the currency calculator later, I discovered I’d be getting about $714,000 in real money. Holy moley! I thought about rushing to tell Barbara that our money worries were over. Then I thought that if it’s too good to be true, then it ain’t true. (One virtue, I suppose, of being an adult.)

I Googled Heineken and found its US headquarters in good old White Plains, NY. I dialed the telephone number and ended up speaking with Miriam Veloz. I explained what was in front of me. She asked me to send her a note while she did some checking…but she said smelled a rat. I wrote:

Good morning. I have received an e-mail about something called “THE HEINEKEN INTERNATIONAL WORLD CUP PROMOTION.” It informs me that I have been selected as a winner for a considerable amount of money (in British pounds). It is from winnersupdate@heinekenintlpromo.info. It requests a response to roodneywalter_claims2@yahoo.com, who is identified as “HEINEKEN INT-L CLAIMS AGENT.”


Furthermore, a second address is included: “All replies must be directed to roodneywalter_claims@k.ro.”Although I have visited your website on several occasions, I don't recall a World Cup-related promotion. Is this legitimate? Or is it a scam? I'd appreciate hearing from someone “official” in the Heineken organization about this. Many thanks in advance.

Miriam wrote back within the half-hour:

Dear Mr. Baron,


Many thanks for your mail and for informing us. It is indeed a hoax. The Heineken brand name is often being fraudulently used for activities in which Heineken is not involved whatsoever. Also in the case of the mail you received, we would like to emphasize that Heineken is neither related to the described lottery nor is it connected to the alleged organization. Heineken would never conduct a lottery like this.

We are currently investigating the origin of this and other e-mails and will take appropriate measures. Miriam Veloz, Corporate Relations, Consumer Affairs.

I felt a small loss (£385,000 isn’t exactly tiny, though I would have settled for a year’s supply of beer). On the other hand, I’d gotten a straight – and quick – answer from a major multinational corporation. So thanks to Ms Veloz and the Heineken US organization, which like many major brands is a target for all kinds of nasty tricks.

And on the gripping hand, I solved a little mystery. Uncovered a scheme that wasn’t immediately attached to someone whose uncle was the former Transportation Minister of Nigeria. Smoked out a scam.

Nobody’s going to give me money I don’t work for. You either. To paraphrase Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, be careful out there on the Worldwide Web.

“EMPTY” © Josefstuefer, www.Dreamstime.com



4 comments:

Susan said...

I received this e-mail just today, July 3, 2007. They even used the Heineken logo.


"Heineken Light" Promotion


Attn: Susan W,

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your mail regarding the notification of the Heineken Light Promotion, Heineken Beer Company has been conducting this online Promotion for the past Three years.

About Heineken Light Promotions Objectives/ Goals:

*This Online promotional award is to raise the profile of Heineken Beer consumer’s Males / Females in the Urban and Rural areas.

*Heineken is in challenge to take its market share from the popular Dutch import beer. The tactics includes Promotional Lotteries, Live Events, Local Campaigns and General Buzz to establish the brand on a neighbourhood at a time in major Urban and Rural areas.

* To promote Heineken Beer as the preferred choice for the Urban and Rural consumer, making it a preferred choice for the Urban and Rural areas, for entertainment in occassions. Simultaneously, create promotions where contest winners could win cash prizes, trips and mingle with the Celebrities at industry events and also to support live event and grassroots activities,our immediate goal is to increase the size of Heineken database among their target group throughout the WORLD.

The processing of your Heineken Light Promotions Award will begins on the acknowledgment of the below Questionnaire form for verification. After the successful verification, a copy of your award certificate will be forwarded to you as an email attachment, By the Clearance Officer,

QUESTIONAIRE FORM / CLAIMS PROCESSING FORM

SURNAME / FAMILY NAME:
FIRST NAME:
DATE OF BIRTH:
SEX:
COMPLETE MAILING ADDRESS:
TELEPHONE NUMBER:
ALTERNATIVE CONTACT:
EMAIL ADDRESS:
COUNTRY:
OCCUPATION:
POSITION::
AMOUNT WON:

ARE YOU A HEINEKEN CONSUMER?

IF YES WHAT BRAND OF HEINEKEN DO YOU ENJOY DRINKING?

HOW MUCH (IN YOUR LOCAL CURRENCY) DO YOU SPEND ON HEINEKEN WEEKLY?

IF YOU DON’T DRINK ANY OF HEINEKEN BEER, WHAT BEER DO YOU DRINK AND WHY DO YOU PREFER DRINKING IT?

Big congratulations from the Heineken Beer Company.

I await your filled Questionnaire.

Congratulation once more from staffs of Heineken Beer Company.

Regards,

Mrs. Mary Sharon.
Heineken Beer Promotional Officer.

Jorick said...

w00t i got it to though mine makes extra clear that only my region is winning any way.

There is some dutch cell-phone number in the e-mail i almost felt like spamming them or some how backtracing them and force feed them spam like a month or some to see if they still liked it.

Anonymous said...

I received a similar one today..Looking at the previous posts this is still going on more than a year later. Albeit my "email scam" is a bit different. I get these emails (not always "Heineken") at least a few a week and the winnings are always in pounds from the UK.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks for your note. Since this particular post was written in July 2006, it looks like these scams just keep on keeping on. These guys are way more persistent than...bloggers.