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Foreign Lottery Scams

In the foreign lottery scam, you receive a call, email or letter--usually from a foreign country-- telling you about a way to select winning lottery numbers, and you need to call a toll-free number to find out more. There is no need to call that number. All the con criminal has is a winning way to take your money.

The foreign lottery pitch

"Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $250,000 in cash! That's right, lump sum and tax-free, it must be your lucky day! Hundreds of people win every week using our secret system! You can win too!"  

That's the start of the pitch and what the scammer hopes will inspire you to call and inquire further.  'Instant riches' is a huge motivator and one that any good conman knows will make normal and intelligent people with good common sense think in ways they otherwise would not.

The foreign lottery presentation

There are multiple ways this scam runs, but typically, you call the toll-free number that you got in the mail and the excited voice on the other end tells you that this is your lucky day and that they company has reserved numbers for you.   They imply that you will get the winning numbers that will allow you to collect $250,000 (the number varies). All you have to do to claim this winning number is wire them a processing fee.

Of course after you wire the money, you never hear from the company again and you often find that you have wired your money out of the country. 

How to avoid the foreign lottery scam

This is pretty simple.  Ask yourself, if you had winning lottery numbers would you sell them to someone else for a small processing fee?  The conmen have answers for this as they have answers for everything.  But ask yourself the question and see if you think it is reasonable.  

Even though it seems like no one would fall for this, thousands and thousands of people do fall for it each year throughout the U.S. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:

There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.

If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, you can 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. Con criminals often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch. Scammers will use this type of information to empty your bank accounts.





 

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