Fraudsters send tens of thousands of lottery scam letters every day of the week to find the most vulnerable of us. Even the first letter you receive from a scammer already may contain some spyware, a software programme that enables him to spy after you all the time, attached to the letter. Whenever you go online to your own bank account and type in your password, spyware will send it immediately to the fraudster together with your bank website name without you even knowing anything about it. So the first rule is: “Never run anything attached to the letter”.
A scam letter, one of our customers has found in his mailbox contained the following:
AWARD FINAL NOTIFICATION
We happily announce to you the draw of the LOTTERY UNIVERSE International programs held on the 20th of August, 2008 in CROYDON, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM.
Your email address attached to ticket number :1456 with serial number:5555/04 drew the lucky number 3-1-174, which subsequently won you the lottery in the first category. You have therefore been approved to claim a total sum of EUR2,000,000.00 (Two million euros) in cash credited to file wlp/23456/05...
They may send you some similar letters or something else you would be happy to hear and start communicating with the criminals. They will try to write you anything they believe you will fall for. They may say that they are gaming officials, lawyers, claims agents, bankers, tax collectors, and any other title that will convince you they are trustworthy.
The customer mentioned above who was targeted by scammers could not remember buying any lottery tickets recently and approached us directly to ask for clarification. Therefore the second rule is:
You cannot become a lottery winner, if did not purchase a lotto ticket before the actual draw. It’s a Rule. No exceptions. If somebody sends you a huge cheque with your “lottery winning” while you cannot remember buying any lotto tickets before, beware, it’s a lottery scam.
If you believe them and answer their letter, they will answer back by asking for your personal identification. This technique is applied to steal your identity. They may ask for your driver's license, passport, credit card information, etc. Using your faked identity with their photo on it they may open accounts you don't know about, take out loans in your name and do not pay for them. They may commit crimes and leave you holding the bag.
They would normally ask you for some money in the second or third letter; occasionally, however, they may ask for money already in the first or later in the fourth letter.
At this point you need to know that absolutely all legitimate lotteries including free lotteries (also known as Sweepstakes) NEVER ask for money as they do not have fees of any kind. The only money you would owe from your lottery winning is state tax that you personally pay directly to your government. In every single country this tax is never paid through anyone else/ by anyone else.
You must bear in mind that you are dealing with professional criminals, hence, all documents they will send you stating that you must pay bank or insurance fees, storage, shipping, etc are forged.
They may ask you to sign a document mentioning that your "lottery winnings" will not be used for terrorism or illegal purposes. No such document exists. Their main aim in this case is to receive your signature so that they could falsify other documents in your name later on.
You also need to remember that lottery winnings are not stored at a security house, they are not shipped in cash or posted to you by courier. Cheques with lottery winnings are handed in personally or otherwise posted to the winners using DHL, UPS, or FedEx.
A criminal group involved in lottery scam would normally have few members who work under instructions from the fraud ring leader. They work from hotel rooms, back rooms and Internet Cafes. They easily relocate and are difficult to seize. They have several dozen mobile phones in a room, each with a name of a potential victim and the name of a character a scammer has to play attached to it. Every fraudster is trained to play as many as 30 different false names and titles.
Lottery scammers may even refer you to a false bank web site. Having purchased domains by hundreds they create required websites in minutes. If you have a look at a false online bank account opened in your name you will see a balance equal to the promised lottery winnings. However, the truth is that there is no money, no such account and you need to be trained in computers to recognise the bank website as false. In fact, making the page look like an online account of some well known bank is very easy.
Some people are asked to come to South or West Africa (Nigeria and neighbouring countries) to take their lottery winnings personally. Unfortunately, some of them were kidnapped or murdered, others were robbed and beaten.
With this in mind, if you receive a letter about your lottery winning, check for an official website address of a relevant lottery and contact them directly.