Foreign Canadian International Lottery Winnings Program Scams
This scam can come to you by Internet email, telephone and mail fraud sweepstake lotto ticket sales scam. Tired of not winning the government sponsored lotteries after years of playing, you are pleased to receive the following mailer. It'll say one of the following things:
"Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $400,000 U.S. CASH!"
"One Lump Sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6."
"Hundreds of people win every week using our secret system!"
"You can win as much as you want!"
Purchasing a Membership
After receiving this card you call the number provided and listen to someone enthusiastically promote the benefits of purchasing a "membership" in a lottery "pool." They'll say that, "These group purchases let you share in a series of ticket packages consisting of high-stakes foreign lotteries from Canada and as far away as Spain, Germany and Australia". The memberships range in price from $29 to thousands of dollars, depending upon how many individual and group plays are purchased, as well as upon how many weeks worth of tickets you purchase.
During the phone call they convince you to buy a membership by saying that you have been "specially selected" as 1 of a small group to play for a large prize pool; that your odds of winning a large prize are "from very good to practically guaranteed" and that your chances of winning are "definitely enhanced" by purchasing through them.
Their Fake Credentials
They say that purchasing their services is a "once in a lifetime chance" to win large sums of money because "this is not a losing chance," and that they employ "experts who are able to choose the highest frequency numbers using scientific methods." They say that they are legally registered by the various foreign governments to sell the lottery tickets, that they are the sole agent for the lotteries in Australia and for the Northwest German State Lottery (which features a 4 -color invitation brochure) and that they limit the number of lottery tickets that are sold to help your odds of winning.
Types of Tickets
One brochure gives you the option of buying a "full ticket" for $766.90 or a "half ticket" for $391.90. After paying, you receive a "confirmation package" containing a listing of the numbers on your tickets and a letter informing you:
You may WIN and receive a certified check for up to $10,000,000 U.S. CASH!
One Lump Sum! Tax free! Your odds of winning are only 1-6!
That is FANTASTIC! GREAT! THE BEST!
The confirmation package contains a "Customer Service" 800 number so you can contact them with questions about credit card billing. It also contains a credit card "authorization" slip for you to sign and return, even though they have already charged your credit card for the purchase.
This authorization will be used to persuade dissatisfied consumers not to seek a charge-back from their credit card company. Contrary to their assertions and fanciful names like Big Win International, Marathon Award Centre or Sunshine Fortuity, the odds of winning anything in these foreign lotteries are non-existent. They do not have special systems which enhance your odds of winning; you have not been specially selected as 1 of a small group to play for a large prize; and it is illegal for them to sell foreign lottery tickets to you and for you to purchase foreign lottery tickets from them.
Where your Money Goes
They fail to disclose that only a small portion of the money you pay to them is used for the actual purchase of tickets. In fact, investigations show that less than 7% of the money you pay goes to the purchase of tickets. After paying about $1 per ticket, they charge as much as $100 per ticket or share in a ticket. Any lottery tickets they do purchase are not sent to you but are kept, along with the proceeds of any winning tickets, by the organizers.
On occasion they indicate that you have won a major cash prize but that to secure the release of the prize, you are required to pay an up-front fee to the company. No prize has been awarded and you become another victim of just 1 variation of an advance fee fraud.
Just 2 such telemarketers have agreed to pay $900,000 for using illegal and deceptive practices when selling these foreign lottery tickets. Over $438,000 in restitution will be distributed to 2,700 consumers who were solicited to buy individual tickets or group shares in the Australian or Spanish lotteries.
People, many of whom are elderly, pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars, sometimes borrowing money or otherwise straining their finances, in the expectation of winning. One 83 year old, Houston, Texas woman bought more than $35,000 in lottery tickets in just a few months after being repeatedly called and harassed by the telemarketers.
Federal law enforcement authorities are intercepting and destroying millions of foreign lottery mailings which are delivered by the truckload into the U.S. consumers, lured by prospects of instant wealth, are responding to the solicitations that do get through, to the tune of at least $120 million a year, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Many of the packages sold are charged to a Visa, MasterCard or American Express. As they can not get a valid merchant account, through which they can process these credit card transactions, they pay other companies to launder their credit card sales drafts for a 15 to 20% fee in a process called "factoring".
This use of other businesses' merchant accounts to process their credit card transactions is not authorized by the credit card companies. Woofter Investment Corp, a Las Vegas firm run by Patsy M. Barbour, also known as Patsy Barbour-Woofter, that processed credit card sales drafts for over fifty Canadian foreign lottery telemarketers has agreed to pay $1,000,000 in redress.
Typical Lottery Names
"Transworld Lottery Commission", the "World Currency Transfer Reserve", the "International Lottery Commission", the "Subscription Processing Department" and "El Gordo - The Fat One" are the multiple names of 1 organization which promises that you will be eligible for chances to win your share of from $45 million to more than $1.2 Billion in prizes.
You are instructed to include from $9.95 to $160, depending on which package you choose, when you return your claim form. The offer claims that payouts to players are "100% confidential and will be paid directly to you in U.S. dollars, with no taxes withheld."