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Beware of Foreign Lotteries - You May be the Loser

19 August 2003

WYOMING -- As reported by the (Wyoming) Casper Star Tribune: ```… Scam operators use telephone, e-mail and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers to participate in high-stakes foreign lotteries. Solicitations come from as far away as Australia, Spain, Germany and Canada.

``Federal law-enforcement authorities intercept and destroy millions of foreign-lottery mailings annually, delivered by the truckload into the United States.

``Still, consumers lured by prospects of instant wealth, respond to the solicitations that do get through to the tune of at least $120 million a year.

``In one variation of the scheme, the winning letter states, "Your fund is now deposited with a security company insured to your name. Due to a mix-up in some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this award top secret from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account as this is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unwarranted taking of an advantage of this program by participants." The company then requests the consumer's personal information, including bank account, so they can "deposit the funds." Finally, the winner is told he or she must wire "good faith" money to enter.

``In another scenario, the "winner" receives a counterfeit cashier's check for the first lottery "winnings." Before the bank has determined that the check is bogus, the victim has already wired money to enter the second lottery.

``…The Better Business Bureau cautions consumers to ignore solicitations for foreign-lottery promotions and never give out credit card or bank account information to someone you don't know and trust…"

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