FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Fairfield County residents should be wary of fake lottery-winning notices being sent in the mail, the state Department of Consumer Protection said Friday.
“These mailings are identical to the scam emails that promise people huge prizes or lump sum payments,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said in a statement. “We want consumers to throw the letters out, and not respond to them in any way.”
The notices, including one addressed from the “Intl. Lotto Commission” of Madrid and another from “La Primitiva Int’l. Loteria,” also of Madrid, both claim that the recipients are winners in the “Spanish Sweepstake Lottery/International Program.”
The lottery scam notifies victims about a cash prize that can be claimed only after the “winner” pays some transfer fees or taxes, provides proof of identity, or gives bank account information. Sometimes a check is sent as part of the winning notice, and the victim is told to deposit it into his or her bank account and return some amount to cover the associated fees and taxes. These prize checks ultimately bounce, but the victim’s payment is gone forever.
“Whenever great prizes, trips, or large sums of cash are supposedly being given away, there’s always a catch, and that catch requires you to pay money or give bank account information in order to get the prize,” Rubenstein said in the statement. “As people here and across the country unfortunately learn, there is no prize – it’s another scam playing on people’s hopes and innocence.”
Common signs of a scam include:
- You’re informed that you have won a prize – but you did not buy a ticket.
- A “winning letter” is personally addressed to you but was sent by bulk mail. Thousands of others around the world are receiving the same notification.
- You’re informed that you have won a lottery prize and are asked for money upfront to release your “winnings.”
- You’re informed that you have won a lottery prize and are asked for bank account, credit card or Social Security number.
- You’re informed that you have won a prize and are told you must comply with the terms immediately or the money will be given to someone else.