Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Nora Dowd Eisenhower today warned older Pennsylvanians to beware of an international lottery scam that adopts the name of Spain's largest lottery prize, "El Gordo."
The actual El Gordo drawing was conducted on Dec. 22 and awarded more than $2.4 billion in prizes to Spanish citizens who had purchased tickets.
"El Gordo is a bona-fide holiday season lottery for Spanish citizens, but the e-mails and letters being received by consumers in the United States telling them they've won a portion of the prize are fraudulent," said Secretary Dowd Eisenhower, who also noted that participating in a foreign lottery is a violation of federal law.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phony letters, as well as forged materials purporting to be from Spanish banks, claim that consumers have won a cash prize. Consumers are instructed to pay a sum that goes toward the taxes, bank costs, and processing fees necessary to deliver the prize money.
"If you receive a letter or e-mail claiming you have won a prize in a foreign lottery, do not pay any money - it is a scam," said Secretary Dowd Eisenhower. "In addition, you should never give your bank account and credit card numbers or other personal information to a stranger."
Consumers may report suspicious "lottery" mailings to the FTC at http://www.ftc.gov/ or 1-877-FTC-HELP. In addition, consumers may contact the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555.