Internet scams and frauds are on the rise! The quantity of scam emails with various fraud schemes any email account receives today is simply overwhelming! There is this infamous Nigerian 419 scam, which is by far the most widely circulated one.
I wrote about it in one of our ezine articles not long ago. You can read about it here! And there are many other scams like Lottery, Letter of Credit, money transfer, black money conversion, real estate, fraudulent order and the list goes on and on.
Looking at my daily doze of scam letters, looks like, the lottery scam seams to be gaining popularity among the con artists. This scam is similar to other forward fee schemes, where the goal of the con artist is to persuade an unsuspected victim to send an advance payment for some dubious offers that the swindlers never plan to fulfill.
Email Lotto Scam
The subject of the emails from an unknown source to you will, probably show, something similar to, “Congratulation! You have own a lottery”. With minor variations the text in most of these letters is virtually identical. The letter, usually, claims to be issued by a Lottery Company based in some countries like The Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Canada or the USA.
And then it says that you are one of many people randomly chosen from all over the world to participate in a lottery of a very large sum. You along with some others have won this lottery. You will be asked to contact them immediately to claim your prize money. Most certainly, the letter will also warn you to keep this as a secret and will specify that the offer has a time limit.
If you contact them after receiving this letter; there are number of variation how the thugs will try to swindle you. They are quite imaginative and sometimes very innovative in their endeavors.
In general the idea is – you have to pay a fee before the lottery company can release the amount to you. The pretexts are, usually, an investigation company has to make sure that you are the right person who won the lottery, as a foreigner you have to pay a tax before you can get your prize and there is a processing and handling fee that has to be paid before hand, etc. Don’t think that these dubious offers are only sent by emails. People received them by regular mails, by direct phone calls and even by SMS.
Phone Call Lotto Scam
One fine morning you may receive a call from a person, claiming to be a lawyer from a prestigious law farm, and will tell you that you have won a foreign lottery; that a processing fee is due before the prize money can be released to you. The seniors are most likely to be the victims of these telemarketers. If you are located in the USA, most likely, the person will introduce himself as a Canadian lawyer and will inform you as if you have won a Canadian Provincial Lottery.
Lotto Scam by SMS
You may even receive a SMS message advising that you have won a foreign lottery. You will be instructed to log onto a website and enter a login and password, which would be provided to you in the message. The site will have the same look and feel of a legitimate lottery site, but in fact, it is a copy site created by the scammers. The URL address will have a very minor, virtually, unnoticeable difference. Once you log in and see for yourself that you have really own the lottery, you will be asked to forward a gaming tax of US $100 to US $500 before you claim your prize.
How to identify these scams and avoid being conned?
The number one motto that you should follow is – if it is too good to be true, then probably, it is indeed too good to be true! There is no way you can win a lottery, in what you have never participated!
The followings are the signs of probable scam offers, you will be better off if you avoid them scrupulously:
- Any offer, where you have to send cash upfront to redeem you prize. Any offer of a substantial percentage of a large sum of money to be transferred into your account, in return for your “discretion” or “confidentiality”;
- Requests for signed and stamped, blank letterhead or invoices, or for bank account information;
- Requests for payment in advance of transfer taxes or other fees; Statements that your name was provided to the soliciting party either by someone you do not know or by “a very reliable contact;”
- Unsolicited calls asking if you would like to be in a “Lottery pool”;
- Mail notifying you that you have already won a substantial sum