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Postal agents intercept, destroy fake lottery checks

Scam AlertScam Alert: Postal agents intercept, destroy fake lottery checks
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Includes video report

Instead of sending foreign lottery letters and checks directly to you from Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica or Mexico, more and more, scammers are sending big batches of letters in a box, to middlemen in the United States.

Each letter is stuffed in a pre-addressed envelope and many envelopes are stamped with American postage. The return addresses are typically just a private mailing center in an American city. The person who picks up the box may hand it off to yet another criminal who'll mail the letters. By sending the box to a middle man, scammers try to get around federal laws that prohibit using the mail for foreign lotteries.

The lottery letters, of course, are fake. And the enclosed checks, which scam targets are told will cover the required insurance and processing frees, are counterfeit. The objective is to convince you (or your parents or grandparents) that everything is legit, so you'll deposit the check and wire back the fees as instructed, in order to collect your winnings. The scammers split the cash after you wire the phony fees. Then the check bounces and your bank comes after you for their money.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, lottery scams are now a billion dollar industry. Victims who fall for the scam have lost thousands dollars.

"I've seen victims that have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Postal Inspector Jeremy Leder in Seattle. "And they think so surely that they're going to win this grand prize, that the fraudsters keep saying, 'Well, just a little more money. A little more money and the prize is yours.'"

With the help of postal agents in Canada, the USPIS is able to intercept and destroy from 60,000 to 100,000 fraudulent lottery letters a year. But with limited staff and resources, agents are not able to stop the flow altogether and Leder says there are no signs the scammers have plans to let up.

Leder, who recently arrested a lottery scam suspect in Seattle, says people need to understand these scams are actually international, organized crime rings.

"They have individual job structures. You have people that are at the other end of the phone calls that are the real scam artists. They're the ones that are going to convince you that you've legitimately won. You've got accountants involved here. You've got the runners, the lower level guys grabbing the funds and transferring money. It's a pretty well-established organization and the bulk of the brains of these operations are overseas." Leder explained.

Sadly, the majority of victims are older Americans who are won over by the smooth talking cons. And if you fall for the scam, your chances of getting your money back are less than your chances of winning a real lottery. Remember, foreign lotteries by mail are illegal. So any foreign letter you get claiming you've women money is a lie.

Also remember that lottery scams are just one way scammers try to get you to deposit fake checks. If you get a check in the mail from anyone asking you to send back all or part of the money- notify the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. But never, ever put that check in the bank.

VIDEO: Watch the news report

6oHczmBlChMPostal agents intercept, destroy fake lottery checksInstead of sending foreign lottery letters and checks directly to you from Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica or Mexico, more and more, scammers are sending big batches of letters in a box, to middlemen in the United States.T02M23Shttp://img.youtube.com/vi/6oHczmBlChM/3.jpghttp://youtu.be/6oHczmBlChM2014-03-04T13:00:00-05:00

KOMO

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18 comments. Last comment 8 months ago by chrissy16.
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hearsetrax's avatar - 78638c467ef281febf24383e126f74b6

United States
Member #52345
May 21, 2007
1882 Posts
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Posted: March 4, 2014, 2:29 pm - IP Logged

well glad to see thar on the ball

    mightwin's avatar - questns

    United States
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    January 5, 2011
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    Posted: March 4, 2014, 3:07 pm - IP Logged

    You think  people would realize that some things are to good to be true

      HaveABall's avatar - rocket

      United States
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      March 18, 2009
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      Posted: March 4, 2014, 3:10 pm - IP Logged

      You think  people would realize that some things are to good to be true

      Apparently not, mightwin, if this has been a billion dollar industry for several years. Mail For You

      Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies

        Teddi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg

        United States
        Member #142504
        May 13, 2013
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        Posted: March 4, 2014, 5:03 pm - IP Logged

        What would it entail to get a copy of the scam letter? I really have to see one because I cannot think of a single thing it could say to be convincing enough to be a billion dollar industry. Admittedly, I couldn't understand how anyone could fall for the Nigerian scam, but since then I would have expected the general public to be more wary. Off the bat I'd have too many questions for me to buy into this.

        1. How can I win a prize I never entered based in a country I've visited from a lottery I've never heard of?

        2. Why am I being sent money to cover the fees? Why didn't the lottery apply those fees where it needed to be and simply send me my winnings?

        3. What reason could they give me as to why I need to wire money before the check to cover it clears?

          chrissy16's avatar - Lottery-011.jpg
          Pennsylvania
          United States
          Member #129873
          June 30, 2012
          2214 Posts
          Online
          Posted: March 4, 2014, 5:24 pm - IP Logged

          What would it entail to get a copy of the scam letter? I really have to see one because I cannot think of a single thing it could say to be convincing enough to be a billion dollar industry. Admittedly, I couldn't understand how anyone could fall for the Nigerian scam, but since then I would have expected the general public to be more wary. Off the bat I'd have too many questions for me to buy into this.

          1. How can I win a prize I never entered based in a country I've visited from a lottery I've never heard of?

          2. Why am I being sent money to cover the fees? Why didn't the lottery apply those fees where it needed to be and simply send me my winnings?

          3. What reason could they give me as to why I need to wire money before the check to cover it clears?

          Teddi, I couldn't agree more.  I guess some people for whatever reason could still be duped.  I am just glad that those letters were destroyed.  Could you imagine being taken for thosands of dollars, horrific.

               

            Drenick1's avatar - villiarna
            USA
            United States
            Member #152806
            February 25, 2014
            469 Posts
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            Posted: March 4, 2014, 5:46 pm - IP Logged

            These people pray on the elderly and the desperate. It is a shame they have gotten away with so much.

              Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
              Zeta Reticuli Star System
              United States
              Member #30470
              January 17, 2006
              9112 Posts
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              Posted: March 4, 2014, 6:28 pm - IP Logged

              Teddi,

              " How can I win a prize I never entered based in a country I've visited from a lottery I've never heard of?"

              I think you might have meant a country you've never visited.

              Anyway, that's how these creeps operate, they bring people's greed to the surface and then strike like a snake.

              One of their main objectives is fidning people that really think thye've won a lottery they don't even have a ticket for.

              Bang Head

              I'd like to see the postal inspectors go after them for mail fraud, which is a Federal rap.

              Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

              Lep

              There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                Teddi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg

                United States
                Member #142504
                May 13, 2013
                589 Posts
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                Posted: March 4, 2014, 7:02 pm - IP Logged

                Teddi,

                " How can I win a prize I never entered based in a country I've visited from a lottery I've never heard of?"

                I think you might have meant a country you've never visited.

                Anyway, that's how these creeps operate, they bring people's greed to the surface and then strike like a snake.

                One of their main objectives is fidning people that really think thye've won a lottery they don't even have a ticket for.

                Bang Head

                I'd like to see the postal inspectors go after them for mail fraud, which is a Federal rap.

                Thanks CT, yes, I meant country I've never visited. 

                I travel outside the U.S. for vacations and I've never been in a situation I needed to provide my US mailing address except to customs. So if I came home to a letter saying I'd won money, my first thought would be how did they get my address. 

                Let's even pretend I was partying so hard I don't remember entering into a game, what kind of lottery doesn't need proof that you are the rightful winner? Even church raffles require you to present the ticket. How can you possibly collect a prize without having to give a ticket with corresponding matching numbers. No lottery is that eager to give you money that they'll track you down in a whole other country AND send you a check to cover the fees, all without you ever needing to verify the win. Who are these people who believe this is actually possible. 

                And lastly, having to wire money to anyone you don't know is a huge red flag, wiring money to someone you don't know in another country...again, who are the people falling for this???? It boggles the mind.

                  Teddi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg

                  United States
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                  May 13, 2013
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                  Posted: March 4, 2014, 7:14 pm - IP Logged

                  Teddi, I couldn't agree more.  I guess some people for whatever reason could still be duped.  I am just glad that those letters were destroyed.  Could you imagine being taken for thosands of dollars, horrific.

                  Actually no, I can't. I work way too hard for the money I have to blindly give it away. If I was that desperate to believe I'd won, their check would have to clear first. 

                  No African royal should need my help and no lottery should be trying to throw money at me without me needing to present them with proof.

                  This reminds me of Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men. People are just wanting to be scammed.

                    sandia's avatar - disney24
                    TEXAS
                    United States
                    Member #107770
                    March 13, 2011
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                    Posted: March 4, 2014, 8:44 pm - IP Logged

                      If the elderly ever fell for such, I could sympathize. They are vulnerable. The younger generation, should know better than that.

                      RedStang's avatar - threefin zpsd48411ab.jpg
                      Dutchess NY
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                      January 21, 2012
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                      Posted: March 5, 2014, 1:18 am - IP Logged

                      I would say make the Banks responsible, but we all know if they could earn a profit they would rip us off too.

                        Avatar
                        NY
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                        Member #23835
                        October 16, 2005
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                        Posted: March 5, 2014, 2:56 am - IP Logged

                        "Each letter is stuffed in a pre-addressed envelope and many envelopes are stamped with American postage."

                        Um, right. If there's one thing that will help convince me I won a foreign lottery I never entered it's a notification letter that doesn't come from that country.

                        It's amazing how gullible people can be when you tell them you want to give them a million dollars.

                          Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                          Chief Bottle Washer
                          New Jersey
                          United States
                          Member #1
                          May 31, 2000
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                          Posted: March 5, 2014, 7:07 am - IP Logged

                          "Each letter is stuffed in a pre-addressed envelope and many envelopes are stamped with American postage."

                          Um, right. If there's one thing that will help convince me I won a foreign lottery I never entered it's a notification letter that doesn't come from that country.

                          It's amazing how gullible people can be when you tell them you want to give them a million dollars.

                          If you look at the letters they are flashing in the video, you'll see they are marked with the Mega Millions logo, not a foreign lottery.  The return address is in the USA too, so it makes sense (from the scammer's perspective) to put USA postage on it.

                           

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                            sully16's avatar - sharan
                            Listens to the wind
                            Michigan
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                            October 28, 2009
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                            Posted: March 5, 2014, 8:17 am - IP Logged

                            Glad to hear they are on the ball.

                            There's only one US Flag