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Con Artists Using New Technologies and Techniques in Foreign Lottery Fraud

 

-- U.S. Postal Inspection Service Offers Prevention Tips for Consumers During National Consumer Protection Week in March --

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has identified new methods of cons and is advising American consumers to be aware of scams involving foreign lotteries. Americans have lost millions of dollars to criminals from countries around the world. During National Consumer Protection Week, March 4 through 10, 2012, the Postal Inspection Service is delivering a message to American consumers:  you can avoid becoming the latest victim in this crime. (www.deliveringtrust.com)

During just the past three years, victims have lost more than $42 million of their hard-earned money to scammers. Scammers might even provide the victim a check or money order as an advance on the winnings, with instructions to cash and return the proceeds in order to receive the winnings.

One of the main techniques scammers use is a foreign lottery scam where they persuade their victims to send money to pay for taxes or fees. Paul Krenn of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says, "Scammers have begun using new technologies such as caller ID spoofing to make it seem like their call is coming from within the United States—perhaps even a government agency. This tactic is particularly effective when used against older Americans or shut-ins, who may be targeted in this scam."  He adds, "If you've received a suspected fraud via mail, or if the mail was used to continue a crime started online, phone, or in person, report it to the Postal Inspection Service."

If you or a loved one receives an unsolicited offer, Postal Inspectors recommend:

  • Hang up the phone and delete the e-mail.
  • Don't give out personal or financial information to anyone over the Internet or phone.
  • Never wire or send money to anyone, anywhere who says you have won a foreign lottery.
  • Don't let anyone pressure you into making an immediate decision.
  • Never purchase anything until you get all information in writing.
  • If you are a caregiver to older family members, take an active interest in their finances. Older Americans are favorite targets of lottery scammers.

Foreign lotteries aren't just a risky proposition for American consumers; under many circumstances they are also illegal. A federal statute prohibits mailing lottery tickets, advertisements, or payments to purchase tickets in a foreign lottery.

Americans can prevent becoming a victim. Learn to recognize the warning signs. For more information, visit DeliveringTrust.com.

About the United States Postal Inspection Service

The United States Postal Inspection Service, founded by Benjamin Franklin, is one of our country's oldest federal law enforcement agencies. Postal Inspectors have a long, proud, and successful history of fighting criminals who attack our nation's postal system and misuse it to defraud, endanger, or otherwise threaten the American public. The Postal Inspection Service enforces more than 200 federal laws related to crime that adversely affects or fraudulently uses the U.S. Mail and postal system. Learn more at deliveringtrust.com or visit "Postal Inspectors: The Silent Service," a special exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, also online at postalmuseum.si.edu/inspectors/index.html.

About National Consumer Protection Week

During National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-10, groups nationwide share tips and information that help consumers protect their privacy, manage money and debt, avoid identity theft, and avoid frauds and scams.  For more information, visit www.ncpw.gov

SOURCE U.S. Postal Inspection Service

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