Lottery scams on TLC

Tomorrow night, October 21st, TLC will be airing a special episode of The Lottery Changed My Life, which will be talking about lottery scams.
Thank you TLC for bringing attention to this issue.

Minnesota Victims

I am looking for victims of internet crimes in Minnesota who would be willing to share their story with City Pages.  If you do not want your name printed, they are willing to respect that.

If you are a victim of any type of internet crime, I encourage you to come forward and share your story.  I know it is not easy . . . I am a scam victim also . . . but I do know how rewarding it is to know that you have helped save others from being a scam victim because your story gave them the information to protect themselves.

If you are interested, you can contact me through

Victims – Tell your story!

I will OFTEN get requests from media people for victims to share their story (on radio, tv or in print).  If you are a victim who would be willing to share your story, please contact me via email with your name, state you live in, and the type of scam you were a victim of (counterfeit check, romance, roommate, credit card fraud, 419, ID theft, etc.)

This can be a wonderful way for you to share your story and help to warn and educate other people about scams!

Lottery scam

A typical Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam begins with an email telling you that you have won a large amount of money, and giving you the name of a contact person or agent that you are supposed to work with in order to claim your money. The “lottery winner” will be told that they need to pay a processing fee in order to claim their winnings. For some, these scams become an addiction much like gambling. There is the promise of a large amount of money, and it feels like it is so close, that they continue to send the “agent” more and more money to cover all of the fictional fees and transfer charges.

In other variations, the “winner” will receive a check from the fake lottery agent. They will be told that the check is a partial payment on their winnings, and that to receive the remainder of the winnings they must cash the check and wire a portion of that check, for fees or charges, to the agent. From here, this variation follows the path of a typical Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam. The scam victim takes the check to the bank, deposits it and waits for the bank to tell them that the check is clear. Once they believe that the check is clear and has been verified as legitimate, the scam victim then wires the “fees” on to the agent. In about a week, the scam victim is contacted by their bank and told that the check is counterfeit and that they must return the money and are fully liable for the entire amount of the check.

The website tells the story of a victim of one of these scams.

Scammers using the Make A Wish Foundation’s name

Scammers are calling people telling them that they have won a sweepstakes sponsored by the Make A Wish Foundation. This scam preys on the victims trust of the good name of the company that the scammers are hiding behind. There was a full article on this that you can read here.

Remember, you have to enter a sweepstakes in order to win, and if there are any fees connected with your winnings a legitimate company could take those fees from your winnings.  You would never need to wire them any such fees.

Lottery Scam Email

We wish to inform you that your email address won 550,000.00 Euros in an
International Award Prize promotion on May 30, 2010 .For claim of award
prize contact

Mr. Luis Gonzales
Tel: +34-672-520-303

Batch Nr: 498 Ticket Nr: 898 Ref Nr: BD-840

All winnings must be claimed not later than June 14, 2010, thereafter unclaimed
funds would be included in the next stake.

Yours Sincerely,
Mrs. Anissa Morales.

No, you didn’t win the Pepsi Lottery

Here is an email that got past my Spam filter.

This is to inform you that your e-mail has won you a total sum of £950,000.00 GBP (NINE HUNDRED & FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS) in the Pepsi lottery of 2010. To claim your prize Contact Shaw Hendrick at:

Mobile No:

Judith Hodge
Public Announcer

First, you have to enter a contest/lottery/sweepstakes in order to win.  Second, I am going to guess if there was a Pepsi Lottery going on, they would have ads EVERWHERE telling people about it.  Third, if this person really worked for Pepsi, they would have an official Pepsi Company email address.

So how does this scam play out?  I am going to guess that you will either be asked for your bank account information so that they can directly deposit your winnings, but instead will take everything from your account.  The other option is that they will send you a cashier’s check for your winnings, and you will have to send a portion of that check back to them (maybe to cover legal fees for your winnings) but the problem will come AFTER you wire them the money and the bank calls you to tell you that the check is counterfeit and they now want you to pay them back.  You cannot just wait for the check to “clear” or be “verified” because even if the bank told you it was “clear” it can come back as counterfeit a week later . . . I know . . . that is what our former back told us!

For more information on Lottery Scams check out our website or talk with others on our message board.

Scammed couple gets their money back!

This one makes me so happy!

Feds return money to Bay Area elderly scammed by Canadian con artists
Investigators warn public to be wary of callers soliciting money

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Monday returned $7,000 to an elderly San Jose couple victimized by Canadian con artists who told them they had won a multi-million dollar Canadian sweepstakes.

ICE and USPIS investigators handed the octogenarians a check for a portion of the funds they forwarded to a Canadian postal box over the course of the last several months. The money was ostensibly to pay the Canadian “luxury” tax on the sweepstakes winnings so they could collect the prize. Like many elderly victims targeted in this and similar telemarketing scams, the couple believed the man who called them last year claiming to be an attorney responsible for alerting them about their sweepstakes win. In response to repeated appeals, the couple mailed multiple cashiers checks and packages containing cash to various Canadian addresses.

The check given to the couple this week represented the cash found in a parcel intercepted by Canadian authorities assigned to Project COLT (Center of Operations Linked to Telemarketing), a binational effort involving numerous agencies, including ICE, USPIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Quebec Provincial Police. The case is under ongoing investigation by Canadian authorities.

“This couple is fortunate investigators were able to recover some of the money they lost, but regrettably much of their life savings will probably never be accounted for,” said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in San Francisco. “While ICE and its enforcement partners are doing everything possible to stop this kind of fraud, the first line of defense is for people to be suspicious of anyone who calls and asks them to send money.”

This week marks the second time in as many months ICE agents have intervened in a case involving an elderly local resident targeted by Canadian telemarketing con artists. In November, they returned $4,000 to a San Jose woman who sent that sum in cash to Canada after receiving a call from a person claiming to be her grandson. The male caller said he was in jail and needed bail money immediately. Soon after, the woman received a call from a man purporting to be her grandson’s attorney who urged her to send the money without delay. Only later did the women learn that her grandson was not in jail and never had been.

“Sadly, we encounter these types of scenarios over and over again,” said Joseph Adiano, inspector for the USPIS. “While it’s hard to believe people fall for ploys like this, you have to remember the telemarketing con artists are incredibly persuasive and they purposely prey primarily on the elderly, who tend to be more trusting.”

Authorities say the most frequent telemarketing scam involves callers posing as “customs agents” who tell victims they have won the Canadian lottery but must send a “processing fee” or “customs duty” before they can collect their winnings. The fraudulent telemarketers may also purport to be lawyers, government officials, police officers, accountants, or lottery company officials. Investigators emphasize the con artists are very believable and will persist until they bilk as much money as possible from their victims.

Initiated in 1998, the goal of Project COLT is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle telemarketing fraud operations. As part of the initiative, law enforcement officers strive to intercept funds – often cash and cashier’s checks – so they can ultimately be returned to victims. Project COLT investigators also work to prevent further victimization, both through public education and the prosecution of those who commit the fraud.

Since its inception, Project COLT has resulted in the seizure and return of more than $25 million to telemarketing fraud victims in the United States and Canada. Telemarketing fraud has become one of the most pervasive forms of white-collar crime in Canada and the United States, with annual losses in both countries in the billions of dollars. These criminal organizations are heavily involved with international and violent organized crime, including the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, and as such they represent a significant assault on the United States homeland and upon the financial security and livelihood of its citizens.

Project COLT members also have formed partnerships with Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Post Corporation, Federal Express, Purolator, United Parcel Service, DHL and other companies to assist with fund interception and return.

Before sending any money to telemarketers, ICE urges the public to contact PHONEBUSTERS, Canada’s Anti-fraud Call Center at 1-888-495-8501. The staff at PHONEBUSTERS work closely with Project COLT investigators and other law enforcement agencies. More information on the initiative is also available through the PHONEBUSTERS website at

REI being used in scam emails


REI Statement on “Prize Winning Payout” Scam

Kent, WA – A company falsely identifying itself as REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) recently launched a scam sweepstakes claiming that individuals have won a “Consumer Promotion Drawing.” The company and promotion are not associated with REI in any way and the check included in the mailing is counterfeit.

REI is currently working with the Kent Police Department, the FBI, and the Office of the Washington State Attorney General. REI is also warning consumers in an effort to prevent additional victims of this fraud.

Consumers from several states have reported receiving letters stating that they have won $150,000 but must claim their winnings within 15 days. The mailing also includes a fraudulent check for $3,800 from “Recreational Equipment Inc.” to cover the “Non-Resident Government Tax” allegedly owed to a “British Tax Officer.”

Because the check is fraudulent, consumers themselves are personally responsible for any funds paid over for the check.

REI encourages consumers who have received this letter to contact their local police department and/or state’s Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division. The case number with Kent Police Department is 09-101-84. Consumers are asked to use this information with their local law enforcement as a reference.

Questions and concerns can be forwarded to

This information is brought to you by

Coca Cola Lottery Scam

The other day I posted that I got a Lottery Scam email that said I had won a contest through Pepsi . . . well, today I got one from Coca Cola!

Date: 9/27/2009 8:38:19 A.M. Central Daylight Time
Reply To:

Name: GREG SMITH Phone # +44 703 174 5628 :+44 703 195 3669 Email:

Accept my hearty congratulations once again!

Yours faithfully,
Mrs.Kate Hudson