Foreign Lottery Scams

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U.S. citizens who have sent off their checks hoping to arrange for the transfer of funds from a foreign lottery payoff are finding instead that their checking accounts have been plundered without their permission.

Postal Inspectors say that U.S. citizens are initially contacted by various firms offering to help them retrieve funds they may have already won. For a small fee they offer to make the necessary arrangements for the transferring of funds between the lottery promoter and the victim's bank.

Bank account information and authorizing signature are furnished by the victims, but only to receive their share of the winnings. Electronic checks are to be made payable to firm.

U.S. citizens are sending off their money, say Postal Inspectors, based on promoters' statements that they are on a "winners list" with hundreds of other players. Promoters claim the pool is to share in millions of dollars in payoffs from various stateside and foreign lotteries. Inspectors say this is simply not true.

Foreign lottery tickets, prizes and related information have always been illegal when sent through the U.S. Mail. These most recent mailings, though not offering tickets for a specific lottery, do promise to payout lottery prizes to everyone in the "winners pool." That makes these illegal, too. Although many of the mailings have been intercepted at the U.S. border, many others have been delivered.

In fact, despite having intercepted and destroyed nearly 3 million foreign lottery mailings sent illegally into the United States since June of 1994, Inspectors warn that the foreign lottery menace is no closer to being controlled.

Postal Inspectors want U.S. citizens to know that playing foreign lotteries has always been risky business. Now there is the danger of unauthorized debits to the checking accounts of unsuspecting players. Inspectors strongly advise against giving out checking account or credit card account information to any foreign lottery representative for any reason.

Laura Bell is Freelance Writer and owner of www.bellbusinessreport.com. The Bell Business Report offers common sense business advice and how-to info for running your business. It takes the everyday headlines apart, dealing with business news, and shows you how to put that information to work for you.

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