“Our Dear Winner, You have won the sum of £710,000 (SEVEN HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND, POUNDS STERLING ) from British Lotto on our 2008 new year charity bonanza. The winning ticket was selected from a Data Base of Internet Email Users, from which your Address came out as the winning coupon.”
“We hereby urge you to claim the winning amount quickly as this is a monthly lottery. Failure to claim your win will result into the reversion of the fund to our following month.”
This is just one example of a lottery scam, a curse which is becoming more frequent. At least 70 000 victims are known but of course many more may not want to admit to being duped. The perpetrators are using the latent greed in all of us to draw their victims into firstly revealing personal details and later, if they can draw you further in, encourage you to part with money perhaps as an ‘administration fee.’ One victim paid out over £10 000 believing he was about to receive a large lottery win and another elderly couple had to be persuaded not to send £20 000.
The British Office of Fair Trading investigated one particular scam and uncovered fifteen call centres in Canada which had already taken £1.6 million from British victims. With the widespread use of communications nearly all the fake lottery correspondence comes from another country, for some reason Canada and Nigeria are common sources.
Many hoaxes come from people who do not have English as their first language. For this reason basic grammatical errors are made either in speech or in the written word. If you spot these alarm bells should start ringing.
There are other points to bear in mind if you are advised of a lottery win:
1. You cannot win a lottery unless you have entered it by either buying a ticket or joining a syndicate. In either case you will certainly know you have entered it.
2. No lottery organization contacts winners. Winners in the UK lottery draw take their ticket to a retailer to start the claim procedure. Of course, if you have won as part of a syndicate then the person who runs the syndicate will advise you.
3. In any case you do not have to provide identification to claim a prize. Holding the ticket is sufficient.
4. There is no fee to pay before you receive your winnings.
5. You can always check with the British National Lottery direct by finding their details online. Do not use the details provided on the email, letter or on the telephone.
The Metropolitan Police in London have an excellent resource but there are a several good websites which can offer good advice on what should be done when you receive such correspondence but by far the best action is to delete the email, destroy the letter or put the phone down. Go no further.