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The U.S. Federal Trade
Commission has this advice for consumers who are thinking about responding
to a foreign lottery or other potential cross-border scams:
- If you are a US citizen and you play a foreign
lottery through the mail or by phone, you are violating federal law.
- If you buy one foreign lottery ticket, expect more
bogus offers for lottery or investment "opportunities." Your name will
be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudulent telemarketers buy and
- Keep your Social Security, credit card and bank
account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an
unsolicited sales pitch.
- Do not fall for a promise. Telephone solicitations
that require an upfront fee for advance-fee loans, unidentified investment
opportunities or prize promotions are against U.S. law. Furthermore, legitimate
lenders do not guarantee a loan before you apply, especially if you have bad
credit or no credit record.
- If you do not recognize a telephone area code,
check it out in your telephone directory.
- The bottom line, the commission says, is to
ignore all solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If you
receive lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local
postmaster or contact your state attorney general's office or the FTC.
For further consumer information please
consult the following government agencies web sites:
Further Consumer Complaint Resources: A Guide
to Internet Fraud
Warning: Do not send any money or personal details to anyone
who says that you have won a prize or anything else in a lottery or sweepstake
that you have not previously entered. Such claims are almost certainly frauds.
Always check fully any person or organisation before sending anything to
Lottery and Sweepstake themed advance fee frauds are
on the increase. Individuals are targeted by e-mail and notified that they are
a category A, B or C winner of a substantial amount of money, usually totalling
millions of dollars, pounds or euros.
The processing fee is usually the way to identify these scams. In some
cases a 'processing fee' is mentioned in the initial 'win' communication.
However some fraudsters wait until the 'win' recipient is sufficiently
interested before asking for money.
Up front fees before the release of the
'jackpot' are usually justified as insurance costs, claim verification charge
or a fee stipulated by a regulatory authority. There is nothing in British law,
nor would there ever be, that requires a prize winner to make any payment in
order to claim a prize.
respond to any such requests for advance payment.
haven't asked for any money."
Some fraudsters set out to steal identities.
Stop and think before you ever release personal information such as passport
number, home address, telephone number, banking details, etc, to unknown
Many win notifications contain
hyper-links to websites purporting to act for the lottery organisers. Taking
the form of financial institutions such as insurance companies, the management
of 'lottery' funds will appear as only a minor part of their wider
They may seem professional at first glance, but most do not
bear close scrutiny. Most of these websites have been pirated from genuine
organisations; as a result of cutting and pasting you may find that text is
inconsistent, spelling irregular and the Contacts page will contain mobile
How can you win a lottery or sweepstake if you never
purchased a ticket?
Dr. Ed Stanek gave these tips to avoid
lottery and sweepstakes scams:
- Never wire funds from a check
you've received to pay taxes or fees for a promised lottery
or sweepstakes prize. You'll never see your money again. Reject any kind of
scheme that sends you a check and asks you to wire money back.
- To avoid all types of lottery
scams, never believe a letter, phone call or Internet message from anyone who
claims they can guarantee you a prize! Legitimate lotteries do not guarantee
that you will win a prize and do not require people to join prize pools to
- Never pay processing fees,
insurance or commissions to claim a lottery prize. Legitimate lotteries do no
require winners to pay anything up front to receive a prize.
- Keep your Social Security, credit
card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists ask for them with the
goal of accessing your accounts and stealing your money.