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For Immediate Release
December 29, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CONSUMER ALERT: FOREIGN LOTTERY SCAMS ARE CONVINCING BUT PHONY

A Denton, Maryland woman received a letter in the mail claiming that she had won $60,000 in the British Columbia lottery. Enclosed with the letter was a check for $2,870.00. The letter instructed the woman to call a representative for further information. The woman called the representative and was instructed to deposit the check in her bank account and then in turn, send a check in the amount of $2,700.00 via Western Union to cover transfer fees and “clearance fees.” Once the check is received, she was told, the lottery winnings would be sent to her. She deposited the check into her account and then sent $2,700.00 by Western Union to an address in New York, New York. Days later, the woman’s bank called and said that the check she deposited had bounced and that her account was overdrawn. She tried to contact the representative at the number listed on the letter, but could no longer get through. She had been duped.

Foreign lottery scams, just like the one described above, have been around for years. You can be notified you are a “winner” by mail or e-mail and some people have been contacted by phone. These scams come from all across the globe. The one thing they have in common is that the “winners” are asked to send money in order to claim their prizes, supposedly for taxes, processing, insurance or some other reason. Of course, they never come out “winners” and instead lose their own money.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. warns consumers to be on the look out for these types of scams. They may be convincing, but are always phony. Attorney General Curran warns consumers to be especially wary of “Award Notifications” or similar notifications that come accompanied with a check. The Consumer Protection Division has received an increase in reports of consumers who have received such notifications.

“Con artists will do anything to cheat consumers out of their money and have gone as far as sending checks that look so real that they are accepted by the bank teller without question. Always remember—if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is,” Curran said.

Consumers who have received these types of notifications may file a report with the Consumer Protection Division or report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

For more information on foreign lottery scams or similar scams, go to www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/edge122.htm to view the newsletter, Consumer’s Edge or call 410-576-6500 to receive a copy.


   

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