This post is a follow up from my http://lau.savingadvice.com/2007/03/30/lotto-scam-taken-one-... on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery_scam. After reading the comments, I realized that other people got a similar letter, and even called the number. These are rules of thumbs that you should keep in mind in the event you should receive one of these letters:
#1... If you didn't enter a contest, or bought a lotto ticket, chances are you won't win. Why are you being told you won something you didn't enter in the first place?
#2... If you did buy that ticket or enter that contest, you should never, I repeat NEVER!! send in money to cover any kind of fees. If anything, you'll pay taxes, but that will either directly taken out of the winnings, or you'll have to declare them on your return comes the following year.
#3... Why is it always the lottery from Italy, Australia, or Spain or any other country than the one I live in? Seriously, I wouldn't be half as suspicious if the letterhead said "US Lottery" (Note that there is no such thing as the "US Lottery")
#4... The old adage is and always be true: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"
Now, if, like me, you are curious and still want to call that number, well.. DON'T!!
What is most likely to happen is that you would deposit that check and send money back to them to cover those "fees" only to find out - after you're account as been debited off course - that the check you deposited bounced.
If you have received such an e-mail or letter, you can file a https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/dod/wsolcq$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01 with the FTC.
From the FTC website:
The FTC has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:
* 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, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment “opportunities.” Your name will 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.
If you are not sure the letter you got is, in fact, a scam, check this website:
http://lottoscams.blogspot.com/index.html. You'll also find resources on what to do in case you have replied to it.
The FTC have compiled a list of http://www.onguardonline.gov/spam.html. You will find a lot more than just the lotto ones in there.
The internet is a great bucket of resources. But everywhere you go, some people will try to take advantage of a good thing, and the internet is no exception. Please be careful and do not trust anyone or anything that looks suspicious.