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The Oprah Ticket Scam

Scammers trying to extract money from victims have been dispatching unsolicited e-mails inviting them to taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show", said the Illinois attorney general's office on November 21 2006.

In the show, the 'special sees audience members' receive gifts worth thousands of dollars. However, the show does not sell tickets. It only takes reservations to witness the filming without requiring paying any charges.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has sent out an alert across the nation that the e-mail invitations offering tickets to a Christmas taping of the "Oprah Winfrey Show" are, in fact, a 'phishing' scam.

The scam aims at getting people's bank account and 'Social Security' numbers. The e-mailed invitation sells 'VIP Guest Seat' tickets of the show between $550 and $950. It requests the recipients to provide their name, address, age and profession, and instructs to wire the money to an unidentified third party.

Madigan expressed concern that as Oprah has many fans, the opportunity to watch a taping of her TV show could result in responding to this unauthorized invitation by recipients. She said consumers should be cautious whenever uncalled e-mails ask them to reveal personal or financial information.

Describing the e-mail, Cara Smith with the Illinois State Attorney General's Office says it invites the recipient and tells that he has won a seat. While congratulating the so-called winner, the e-mail asks to send money and a host of personal details to secure the seat at the Christmas show.

Smith notes that the important thing about the 'Oprah' show is that it does not sell any ticket. The purpose of this alert is to avoid having victims because if consumers respond to the e-mail or send money, it would become very hard to come back. According to Oprah's original website, promises of reservations through third-party sources for obtaining a legitimate ticket to the show were not genuine.

It is not certain how far the scam has spread. But the attorney general's office has alerted people who may have sent money or given in financial information in reply to the invitation, to check their personal accounts for any suspicious attempts.

Related article: THE SPAM MAFIA

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