|Illegal lotteries: Don't be the victim of a scam! |
"Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $400,000 US CASH!
One lump sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6."
"Hundreds of U.S. citizens win every week using our secret system! You can win as much as you want!"
Illegal lotteries operate from locations all over the world and notify "winners", with enticing language like the above, via the mail, phone or Internet. Sometimes the enticements are about phony lotteries in the United States, but they can be from as far away as Australia and Europe. These lottery solicitations violate US law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail.
Still, federal law enforcement authorities continue to intercept and destroy foreign lottery mailings sent or delivered by the truckload into the United States. And consumers, lured by prospects of instant wealth, are responding to the solicitations that do get through-to the tune of $120 million a year, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Most promotions for foreign lotteries are likely to be phony. If you have received any correspondence touting lottery winnings, regardless of where it is from, please remember the following:
- Never give your credit card or bank account numbers to anyone promising lottery cash prizes or memberships.
- Never respond to a letter, email or phone call from someone who offers you a guarantee of winning a prize.
- If you are going to participate in a "lottery pool", use caution and do so only with people you know and trust.
- Never redeem a lottery ticket for someone you do not know. Some scams are operated by groups of individuals who travel around the country, approaching victims with a wide range of tales. Among them:
SCAM: "This is a winning ticket, but I need money to claim it. If you help me with the upfront money, I'll share the jackpot with you."
TRUTH: Once a ticket is bought, no money is EVER required to claim a prize.
SCAM: "I can't cash in my winning lottery ticket because I'm not a US citizen."
TRUTH: You don't have to be a US citizen to claim a lottery prize.
SCAM: "We need to hurry! I need to get back to my family - it's an emergency!"
TRUTH: The thieves are trying to rush you so you don't have time to think or call a family member or friend for advice or help.
Michigan Lottery can only be purchased from licensed Michigan Lottery retailers. The Michigan Lottery does not sell tickets through the mail, over the Internet, or by subscription. A Lottery player is eligible to win a prize either outright, through the purchase of a ticket, and the play of a game, or by submitting a ticket or entry form for a secondary drawing. Notification of these winners may be by phone, email or US mail. If you did not purchase a lottery ticket or enter a secondary drawing, you cannot win a prize.
If you still choose to respond to a foreign lottery request, please note the following from the Federal Trade Commission
- If you play a foreign lottery-through the mail or over the telephone-you're violating federal law. There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
- If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, you may receive many more bogus offers for lottery or investment "opportunities." Your name could be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell. Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.
Need more information?
To learn more about cross-border fraud, go to any of the following Web sites:
The old saying still holds true, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Don't be a victim and don't let anyone you know be a victim. When you hear one of these stories - get away, call the police, and give them a description of what occurred. Help stop these criminals - before they rob again.