Have your received an email, or US Postal letter, or even a phone call, saying something like:
- 'Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $400,000,000
One Lump sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6.'
- 'Hundreds of U.S. citizens win every week using our secret system!
You can win as much as you want!'
It may sound great, but it's a fraud. Federal law enforcement authorities are intercepting and destroying millions of foreign lottery mailings sent or delivered by the truckload into the U.S. And consumers, lured by prospects of instant wealth, are responding to the solicitations that do get through, estimates by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are $120 million a year in scams.
How do foreign lottery scams work
Scam lottery operators,
often based in Canada, are using the telephone and direct mail to entice U.S.
consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as
Australia and Europe. These lottery solicitations violate U.S. law, which
prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, says most promotions for foreign lotteries are likely to be phony.
- Many scam operators don't even buy the promised lottery tickets.
- Others buy some tickets, but keep the 'winnings' for themselves.
- In addition, lottery hustlers use victims' bank account numbers to make unauthorized withdrawals or their credit card numbers to run up additional charges.
The FTC has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:
If you play a foreign lottery ' through the mail or over the telephone ' you're violating federal law.
There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
What happens when you play a foreign lottery
If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment 'opportunities.' Your name will be placed on 'sucker lists' that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.
What to do
The bottom line, according to the FTC: Ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local postmaster
And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive. We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late! Do not open the attachment. Delete the email.