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Scams | Consumer Information
International Lottery Scams

“Congratulations! You may receive a certified check
for up to $400,000,000 U.S. CASH!  One Lump sum!
Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6.”

Sound great? It’s a fraud.

british_lottery.gifScam 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.

Still, 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 to the tune of $120 million a year, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says most Australian lotterypromotions 
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:

Spain 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.
        • 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.

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.  If you believe you’ve responded to a scam, file a complaint with the FTC or your state Attorney General.

Phone Scams
In the last week we have received an unusual amount of reports of phone scams.  Phone ScamsThe reports indicate that the  victim is contacted by telephone and told that they either won a prize or that they are late on a bill.  The victim is asked to purchase a pre-paid card from a local store or to wire money.  The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has found that almost all of these crimes originate from outside of the USA.  The suspects are purchasing MagicJack and other V.O.I.P. phone systems, hook them up to a computer or internet connection and they are now free to call internationally from their home country to the USA for free since it appears to be a local call.  

The Federal Trade Commission has a task force that investigates these crimes and urges victims to contact them as they have been pretty successful in working with other countries to apprehend and prosecute these suspects.  Below is a small section from the FTC website.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant ( or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics (

If someone wants to report this type of crime, they should file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by either going online or calling the phone number provided above. 

Phone Fraud