Heineken Promotion Scams: Don't Fall for These Advance-Fee Rip-Offs

Don't Fall for This Common Advance-Fee Scam!

Bottles of Heineken Beer
••• Make sure that you are getting "Heineken Quality," not a lottery scam. Image (c) Tommaso Boddi / Stringer / Getty Images

Have you received a winning email claiming that you have won the Heineken Lottery Promotion (or a similar-sounding drawing)? Think again; the Heineken lottery is, unfortunately, not legitimate.

What Is the Heineken Promotion Scam?

The Heineken Lottery is an example of an advance-fee scam, a common rip-off that con men use to try to convince victims to hand over money by promising an even larger sum of money in return.

Of course, the larger sum of money never appears, regardless of how much the victim pays out.

With the Heineken Lottery Scam, winners are usually contacted by email, told that they have won a large lottery prize, and are instructed to submit information to claim their money.

Here is a quote from a Heineken promotion scam email:

"Dear Lucky Winner,

We are pleased to inform you of the result of the just concluded annual final draws of Heineken Annual Promo.

The online Heineken Annual Promo draws was conducted by a random selection of email addresses from an exclusive list of 29,031 e-mail addresses of individuals and corporate bodies picked by an advanced automated random computer (TOPAZ) search from the internet. However, no tickets were sold but all e-mail addresses were assigned to different ticket numbers for representation and privacy."

You can read the full email, and many similar ones, on the Scamwarners website.

Once a "winner" has responded, the con artists will tell you that you just need to pay a small sum of money for taxes, or to get the money through customs, or to pay for security to get the cash to you, or some other bogus reason.

Remember: you never need to pay money to claim a legitimate prize!

How Heineken Lottery Scams Work:

Although the exact details vary from email to email, the Heineken scam emails work hard to convince readers that they are legit.

Some of the tricks they use include:

  • They tell people their email was chosen at random from among all email addresses, so that people don't wonder how they could have won a sweepstakes they didn't enter. (The Microsoft Lottery Scam shares this tactic).

    Upon closer inspection, this would be a ridiculous way to draw winners. What benefit would the sponsors receive from giving away millions of dollars worldwide without getting any advertising out of it?
  • Many times, the scam email is "signed" by someone who really does work at Heineken. However, anyone can do an internet search for a legitimate name to use on these scam mails. That doesn't mean that the person is really involved with the fake giveaway.
  • The mails instruct their victims not to tell anyone they've won, and not to share the mail because then your winning number will become public. If more than one person submits the same number, it will be invalid, and you won't get your money! You'd better guard that number closely, right?

    Wrong. This is just an attempt to prevent people from asking more savvy friends and relatives whether they should respond to the scam. Here's a hint: you shouldn't!

How to Recognize Heineken Promotion Scam Emails:

Luckily, if you know the most common warning signs of sweepstakes scams, you'll be able to spot a Heineken scam email quickly, despite their tricks.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Poor grammar and spelling: a legitimate company like Heineken would hire copywriters and editors. Maybe they might overlook a typo, but their mails wouldn't be riddled with poor English.
  • How they address you: the con artists don't really know anything about you, so they won't address you by name or include any identifying information like a legitimate winning email would.
  • It's an international lottery: you can only buy tickets for lotteries when you're physically in the country holding it. So if you haven't been to the UK, you can't win a UK lottery.
  • The email address it comes from: if you look at the originating email address, it doesn't appear to come from Heineken or from a legitimate sweepstakes agency. Instead, it's a free email address, random letters and numbers, or other gibberish.

    What Heineken Has to Say about These Scams:

    While Heineken does run legitimate sweepstakes for marketing purposes, they do not run lotteries. The company has published a Warning Against the Heineken Lottery Scam on its website. Part of the warning states:

    "HEINEKEN wants to emphasize that it is neither related to the described lotteries, prize draws or job offers, nor is it connected to any alleged organisation that e-mailed it.

    HEINEKEN reports fraud like this to the relevant (local) authorities like the police and asks them to investigate the origin of all those e-mails. HEINEKEN also asks for measures, if possible, against such organizations."

    Heineken also points out that many large businesses have their company name, employees names, and logos abused by this type of scam. They are absolutely right. Publishers Clearing House is another one of many big companies whose names are often used in scams.

    What to Do If You Receive a Heineken Lottery Scam:

    The most important thing when you receive a scam email is not to respond. Don't give any personal information to these people. Even if you don't send money, responding could make you a target of future scams.

    If you want to, you can report the scam to the proper authorities.