Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has issued a nationwide alert Tuesday Nov 21st, warning that e-mailed invitations promising tickets to a Christmas taping of the "Oprah Winfrey Show" are actually a "phishing" scam by clever online criminals.
The famous special sees audience members walk away with thousands of dollars-worth of gifts. But the show, which is taped in Chicago, does not sell tickets. It only takes reservations to attend filming for free. The "fake" invitation, on the other hand, offered the opportunity to buy "VIP Guest Seat" tickets for $550 to $950. In return, the fake e-mail promised that ticket-holders would receive "gifts and cash rewards of up to $50-thousand."
Recipients were then asked to provide personal information and given instructions on how to wire the money to an unknown third party. "With the large number of Oprah's fans worldwide, we are concerned that their excitement at the opportunity to attend a taping of her TV show may result in fans responding to this unauthorized offer," Madigan warned.
The e-mails were reported to the state by lawyers with Oprah's Harpo Productions Inc., Madigan spokeswoman Cara Smith said Wednesday. "The goal with this alert is to not have any victims, because once consumers respond to this or send money, it's very, very difficult to make them whole," Smith said.