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Advice for consumers who are thinking about responding to a
foreign lottery or other potential cross-border scam

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 sell.
  • 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 them.
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.
'Processing Fees'
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.
Never respond to any such requests for advance payment.
"But they 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 organisations.
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 organisation.
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 phone numbers.
How can you win a lottery or sweepstake if you never purchased a ticket?

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