“Congratulations on your good fortune. You are a winner in a special sweepstakes drawing!” So says a letter, email or telephone call, such as the one recorded here.
At first, you’re thrilled to learn that you have won a lottery. You can imagine the millions of dollars that await you in a foreign bank account, and all of your dreams are about to come true. All you need to do is call for more information, and wire a processing fee to the bank. Within days, you will receive your money, and you can begin living a life of luxury.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a legal foreign lottery. More importantly, you will never be asked to pay a processing fee or “taxes” or any other sum of money in order to receive a prize that you have legitimately won. These operations are always scams, and Americans have been bilked out of millions of dollars via these schemes.
So how do you identify a scam? The most important rule to remember is that anything that seems too good to be true, is always a scam. However, if you need more clues to convince you, look for these common signs of a con artist at work.
Spelling errors. Large companies or government offices employ professional writers to create their correspondence. If you spot spelling or punctuation errors, this is a sure sign of a scam.
Check the postmark. Doesn’t it seem unusual that a letter from an American company would be postmarked in Montreal, or some other foreign city? That’s because many of these scams originate from outside the country.
Unrealistic claims. One recently circulated scam involved a one-billion-dollar prize from a large, well known company. No company is going to give away a billion dollars. A ridiculous prize amount such as this one is a clue that you are not dealing with a legitimate source.
Bogus checks. A bogus check is often included with the letter to gain your trust, but it’s just another trick in the con artist’s arsenal. You might feel tempted to trust someone who mails you a check to prove their legitimacy. Perhaps this check is presented as an advance on your earnings, or it’s the full amount of the prize itself. After you deposit that check into your bank account, the “lottery official” asks you to pay taxes on your prize, or return some of the money because they accidentally overpaid you. Days later, the bogus check bounces. Now the bank has frozen your account, and you owe a large sum of dollars to the bank.
If you receive a letter, email, or phone call about a lottery prize that you have won, shred the letter, delete the email, or hang up the phone immediately. It is always a scam!