Scammers love large companies. They have recognizable and mostly trusted names to use to take advantage of gullible people. Microsoft is one of those companies whose name is invoked to target consumers in an attempt to obtain their personal info and use it for nefarious purposes.
The lottery scam isn't new. In fact, it's been around so long you'd think people would catch on, but we tend to have a short memory and this scam rears its ugly head from apparent obscurity every once in a while back into the light.
Essentially, the con is this—you will receive an email purportedly from some representative of the Microsoft Lottery Team. You will be told that you're a lucky winner of XXX amount and you will need to verify your personal info such as name, address, phone and bank account number. They claim they need this info in order to deposit the money into your account. Or you may be asked to send money to them in order to pay for shipment of your prize.
You can always ignore these emails to protect yourself, but it's a good idea to remember some safety tips when giving out your email too. As a sweepstaker, consider creating a different email account to use specifically for sweepstakes entries. If you receive this type of email and it somehow got past your spam filter, be sure to mark it as spam before you delete it.
According to Microsoft.com, the company does not send unsolicited emails specifically targeted at individuals and there's no such thing as a Microsoft Lottery. They don't ask for your credit card or bank info. If you've lost money with this scheme, Microsoft suggests you report it to law enforcement or the FTC and send them a copy of the report in order to help them join with these agencies to ferret out these criminals.
And as always, please remember that if you didn't enter, you didn't win.
Microsoft isn't the only company that's popular for con artists to use. Protect yourself against these cons and read more about similar fake lottery type schemes at Facebook Lottery Scam and BMW Award Scam Alert.