01 March 2012

USPIS: Don't Believe Anything You Read Or Hear About Foreign Lotteries

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: Foreign lotteries are bogus and illegal and should be ignored.

It doesn’t matter whether that email in your inbox says you’ve just won hundreds of thousands of pounds from Britain…or a zillion naira from Nigeria…or an Eiffel Tower-sized stack of Euros from France. All such emails are scams and they’re all designed to steal your money.

That’s the primary lesson the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) hopes every American citizen learns during National Consumer Protection Week, which runs March 4-10.

“Consumers need to understand that foreign lotteries and sweepstakes by mail or telephone are bogus and illegal in the United States,” said Tom Brady, the USPIS’ Inspector In Charge. “Over the last three years, U.S. consumers have reported losses in excess of $42 million from lottery and sweepstakes scams. The Inspection Service has always been committed to keeping our customers safe.”

The USPIS and the Chicago Wolves are teaming up during National Consumer Protection Week. USPIS representatives are attending the Wolves home games on Sunday, March 4, and Wednesday, March 7, to tell fans how they can protect themselves against fraud. They’ll also hand out Wolves “More Than A Game” mouse pads.

A strong first step toward preventing email and telephone fraud is visiting www.deliveringtrust.com. Many of the tips are designed to protect older Americans, who are frequent targets for scam artists.

“We’re trying to target the caretakers and give them telltale signs of scams,” said Julie Kenney, the USPIS’ Public Information Representative. “If they want you to pay up front for your prize, that’s a definite no-no.

“And once they send money, they’re put on a ‘sucker’ list, so volunteer to help older family members balance checkbooks. Ask about sudden large withdrawals. Answer the phone when you’re at their home to see what kind of calls they’re getting. Remember, if you are a United States citizen and living in the United States, it is illegal to play a foreign lottery.”