The Attorney General’s office has received reports of Arkansans being told they won international lotteries, but these scammers are actually stealing thousands.
“The con artists contact consumers through direct mail, email or a phone call requesting a ‘small’ fee in order to process the cash winnings,” according to a news release.
Typically, the scammer contacts people claiming they have won money, a car or an expensive trip. All the consumer has to do is submit a small payment or their personal financial information to claim the prize. Payments are usually requested as “processing fees” or “customs charges,” according to the release.
“International scams of all types are a common ploy to take advantage of people,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “You are almost guaranteed not to win an international lottery, so why risk losing so much? Be smart and do not take the chance.”
Rutledge offered the following tips for anyone who receives communication about a foreign lottery or prize:
• A consumer should never have to pay something to receive a “free” prize. Be wary of anyone requiring payment in advance to obtain winnings.
• Be cautious if someone asks that a fee be paid through a pre-paid credit card or by wiring money. If such payments are made, the money may never be seen again. Legitimate organizations will accept standard and traceable forms of payment.
• It is a violation of federal law to play international lottery through mail or over the telephone.
• People who accept these offers become targets of other scammers when their information is shared or sold to others. Never provide any financial account information to an unknown person or entity.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica, in April the governments of Jamaica and the United States extradited eight Jamaicans to face federal charges related to an international lottery scheme. These scammers specifically targeted the elderly who are on fixed incomes. This multi-million dollar scheme is just one of many that the two embassies are working to shut down.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or email@example.com or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.