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Californians targeted by Spanish lottery scam

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Californians targeted by Spanish lottery scam

Imagine receiving a letter in the mail that you're the big winner of a lottery in Spain.  If it sounds too good to be true, that's probably because it is.

This scam is known as the "El Gordo" lottery, meaning "fat one".  But the only ones fattening their wallets are the criminals behind it.

It's a letter that seemed too good to be true to News 8's assistant news director Dean Elwood.

"$600,000 ... who wouldn't want that," he said.

And according to this notice claiming to be from the "El Gordo" Spanish Lottery, Elwood is a big winner -- to the tune of $615,000 thousand dollars. He's one of 17 lucky winners.

The letter arrived at Elwood's home address with a Spanish postage stamp. Also inside was a payment form asking for his bank account information, and even a routing number.

Jay Foley with the Identity Theft Resource Center says there's your first red flag.

"Never give your account routing number and bank account number to anyone," Foley said. "It is without a doubt strictly a scam."

We wanted to see what would happen if we called claim agent Luis Sanchez in Spain.

He mentions transfer fees that must be paid, and Elwood then asks for specifics.

Foley says unfortunately too many people buy into this scam, including an 82-year-old woman who didn't have cash to pay the so-called lottery fees.

"Instead, [she was] talked into sending 52 years worth of gold jewelry," Foley said. "[She] just lost her husband -- all of those memories, all gold gone away."

"A lot of seniors unfortunately aren't connected to the Internet," Foley explained. "All [they] have to do is Google a few key words find out what a scam it is."

KFMB

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12 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by ChazzMatt.
Page 1 of 1
bellyache's avatar - 64x64a9wg

United States
Member #12618
March 18, 2005
2060 Posts
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Posted: November 30, 2005, 1:43 pm - IP Logged

*sigh* People really need to do a bit of research before sending anything to these scammers.

Dance like no one is watching.

    Avatar
    Coastal Georgia
    United States
    Member #2653
    October 30, 2003
    1866 Posts
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    Posted: November 30, 2005, 8:23 pm - IP Logged

    How many times do we have to say it ?

     

    If it seems too good to be trueIt IS !!!!!!!!

     

                                   

                  

     

     

      Avatar
      new delhi
      India
      Member #22145
      September 20, 2005
      174 Posts
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      Posted: December 2, 2005, 10:24 am - IP Logged

      Amen!


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
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        Posted: December 2, 2005, 3:45 pm - IP Logged

        How many times do we have to say it ?

         

        If it seems too good to be trueIt IS !!!!!!!!

        Much like "you won a million dollars" only to find out it's in yearly installments with no cash option.

          bellyache's avatar - 64x64a9wg

          United States
          Member #12618
          March 18, 2005
          2060 Posts
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          Posted: December 2, 2005, 3:59 pm - IP Logged

          It's not quite the same CASH. Because even if you win a million dollars and it is annuity you still have money coming in. People who are scammed lose money, they don't gain any.

          Dance like no one is watching.


            United States
            Member #379
            June 5, 2002
            11296 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: December 2, 2005, 4:10 pm - IP Logged

            It's not quite the same CASH. Because even if you win a million dollars and it is annuity you still have money coming in. People who are scammed lose money, they don't gain any.

            Well then you're told something that is not quite the truth.

              bellyache's avatar - 64x64a9wg

              United States
              Member #12618
              March 18, 2005
              2060 Posts
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              Posted: December 2, 2005, 4:15 pm - IP Logged

              What's not the truth? How can you compare the two?

              1. Being scammed out of thousands of dollars and not gaining one penny! You lose money.
              or
              2. Winning money even if it comes through payments. You gain money.

              See.

              Dance like no one is watching.

                Avatar
                metro Atlanta area
                United States
                Member #4122
                March 23, 2004
                49 Posts
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                Posted: December 3, 2005, 5:23 am - IP Logged
                also, I think everyone who actually plays the various state and mega-state lotteries here in the U.S. know that the winnings are paid out in installments.  Even the old Ed Mahon magazine "YOU ARE A WINNER" sweepstakes were paid in installments -- including the sweepstakes from Reader's Digest.  I remember my mom always waited for someone to knock on the door.  :)  And we all knew that NOBODY was handed a real check for millions of dollars.  It was a large photo op check with the real money paid in installements.  When you won you thanked God for suddenly being $50,000 - $100,000 richer every year for the next 20 - 25 years.  That was just the deal -- they were giving you a wagon load of money for the cost of a magazine subscription, and you didn't complain.
                So, I'm not sure what the big deal is about some people thinking lottery annuities are some kind of raw deal.  It's just like the magazine sweepstakes, they aren't trying to cheat you.  Be thankful that most lotteries now do offer a partial cash value (the money that would have been invested in the annuity).  However, if you want that partial cash value and you feel that you won't blow a huge chunk of it before coming to your senses and you think you can invest whatever is left at a better rate than the annuity rate, then go ahead.  But, if they only offer an annuity, big deal. 
                From some of the winners I've seen go down in flames, an annuity payout would have been the best choice for them.  It might have saved them from destruction while still allowing them to live a relatively wealthy life.  And with an annuity plan, when relatives/friends come a-begging you have a great excuse "Sorry, I've already spent my annuity payment for this year."  -- even if you haven't, but they don't have to know that.  That gives you a year to think up another excuse/change phone numbers/move.

                  United States
                  Member #379
                  June 5, 2002
                  11296 Posts
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                  Posted: December 4, 2005, 1:28 pm - IP Logged
                  also, I think everyone who actually plays the various state and mega-state lotteries here in the U.S. know that the winnings are paid out in installments.  Even the old Ed Mahon magazine "YOU ARE A WINNER" sweepstakes were paid in installments -- including the sweepstakes from Reader's Digest.  I remember my mom always waited for someone to knock on the door.  :)  And we all knew that NOBODY was handed a real check for millions of dollars.  It was a large photo op check with the real money paid in installements.  When you won you thanked God for suddenly being $50,000 - $100,000 richer every year for the next 20 - 25 years.  That was just the deal -- they were giving you a wagon load of money for the cost of a magazine subscription, and you didn't complain.
                  So, I'm not sure what the big deal is about some people thinking lottery annuities are some kind of raw deal.  It's just like the magazine sweepstakes, they aren't trying to cheat you.  Be thankful that most lotteries now do offer a partial cash value (the money that would have been invested in the annuity).  However, if you want that partial cash value and you feel that you won't blow a huge chunk of it before coming to your senses and you think you can invest whatever is left at a better rate than the annuity rate, then go ahead.  But, if they only offer an annuity, big deal. 
                  From some of the winners I've seen go down in flames, an annuity payout would have been the best choice for them.  It might have saved them from destruction while still allowing them to live a relatively wealthy life.  And with an annuity plan, when relatives/friends come a-begging you have a great excuse "Sorry, I've already spent my annuity payment for this year."  -- even if you haven't, but they don't have to know that.  That gives you a year to think up another excuse/change phone numbers/move.

                  My point is that sometimes, even in lotteries, there is NO cash option in lieu of the annuity. Annuity-only schemes make money (at least in theory) for the seller of the annuity.

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                    metro Atlanta area
                    United States
                    Member #4122
                    March 23, 2004
                    49 Posts
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                    Posted: December 4, 2005, 4:43 pm - IP Logged
                    My point, pretty well clear I thought (but maybe not) was that in the old days with the magazine sweepstakes wars to get subscribers all that was offered were the 20 - 25 year installments which is identical to the annuity option on the lotteries.  The magazine publishers bought an annuity just like the lotteries do today.  And that's how you got your money and nobody complained.  That was just the rules.  You were happy to be gettng millions of dollars that you wouldn't otherwise be getting.  If you thought you couldn't live on $10 million paid out over 20 years, then don't enter the contest.  :) 
                    So, it's the same for those few "no cash option" lotteries.  And all those magazine winners did get all their money, and all the lottery winners do get paid.  It's not a scam -- they are just advertising the final cash value rather than the amount they are paying for the annuity.  If they advertised the initial annuity investment amount (which is also the cash option payout), not as many people would play and then the jackpots would be even smaller -- the cash option payouts would be even smaller. 
                    As for the seller of the annuity making some money -- it's a fixed amount.  the states buy them from an investement professional at the lowest commission possible but with the highest return on the market, yet still be guaranteed.  It's what goes into the formula to determine what the jackpot will be as well as mathematical algorithms to try to predict how many people will buy lottery tickets that week.  That's why occasional a jackpot will end up being higher than initially announced.  Something changed.  The lottery people are always trying to get jackpots higher because they know more people will play -- if the annuity seller makes too much money that cuts into the amount invested and thus a smaller final payout amount.  So, no, the annuity seller is only making the minimal amount allowed.
                    But, my point was if all that is offered is annuity -- no cash option -- it's still great.

                      United States
                      Member #379
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                      Posted: December 4, 2005, 4:53 pm - IP Logged
                      My point, pretty well clear I thought (but maybe not) was that in the old days with the magazine sweepstakes wars to get subscribers all that was offered were the 20 - 25 year installments which is identical to the annuity option on the lotteries.  The magazine publishers bought an annuity just like the lotteries do today.  And that's how you got your money and nobody complained.  That was just the rules.  You were happy to be gettng millions of dollars that you wouldn't otherwise be getting.  If you thought you couldn't live on $10 million paid out over 20 years, then don't enter the contest.  :) 
                      So, it's the same for those few "no cash option" lotteries.  And all those magazine winners did get all their money, and all the lottery winners do get paid.  It's not a scam -- they are just advertising the final cash value rather than the amount they are paying for the annuity.  If they advertised the initial annuity investment amount (which is also the cash option payout), not as many people would play and then the jackpots would be even smaller -- the cash option payouts would be even smaller. 
                      As for the seller of the annuity making some money -- it's a fixed amount.  the states buy them from an investement professional at the lowest commission possible but with the highest return on the market, yet still be guaranteed.  It's what goes into the formula to determine what the jackpot will be as well as mathematical algorithms to try to predict how many people will buy lottery tickets that week.  That's why occasional a jackpot will end up being higher than initially announced.  Something changed.  The lottery people are always trying to get jackpots higher because they know more people will play -- if the annuity seller makes too much money that cuts into the amount invested and thus a smaller final payout amount.  So, no, the annuity seller is only making the minimal amount allowed.
                      But, my point was if all that is offered is annuity -- no cash option -- it's still great.

                      matt:

                      At least there is/was no purchase necessary to enter the magazine and similar sweepstakes (boycott Publisher's Clearing House and don't order any magazines if there were an annuity-only prize). But to play the lottery, you need to BUY a ticket.

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                        metro Atlanta area
                        United States
                        Member #4122
                        March 23, 2004
                        49 Posts
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                        Posted: December 4, 2005, 8:39 pm - IP Logged

                        True, they said there was no purchase necessary (and by law there wasn't supposed to be) -- but often if you didn't purchase you had to send in a 3x5 card with your name and address or something else that screamed "please throw this in the trash."  The people who bought magazines got the fancy stamps and offical entry documents and postage-paid envelopes.  :)  So, psychologically you felt compelled to order at least one magazine -- and this was on purpose.  These magzine folks were marketing professionals and their intent was to pressure you to buy a magazine or risk having your entry ignored.  Later when they let non-subscribers send their entry in the same envelope as subscribers, you still had to affix a big adhesive stamp on the back, green for yes (and color of money) and red for no (no winner?).  The adhesive stamps actually had a statement printed on them.  The green one said, "Yes, I want to be a part of your wonderful magazine family and win lots of money".  The red one said, "No, I am a low-life who doesn't even know how to read and I want your money for nothing."  OK, I'm exaggerating -- that's not what the statements on the stamps said -- but that was implied in the big red and green stamps you had to affix to the envelope to let them know whether it was worth their time to process your entry or maybe accidentally throw it away.  I would be curious to know if any of those magazine sweepstakes winners came from the non-subscriber pool

                        Wheras, the lottery is only a dollar and you don't have to play any guessing games.  Takes less time, easier, and costs less money than a magazine subscription.

                         

                        Why do you say to boycott Publisher's ClearingHouse is they offer an annity only prize?  It's still millions of dollars you would not normally have.... They are selling magzines and somebody gets rich.  Sounds good to me!  There are certain business considerations they have fulfill as the cost of doing business.  They have shareholders to answer to, magazines to sell, overhead expenses to worry about.  Even as in multi-state lottery drawings where some people don't think anything less than "$100 million" is worth paying a dollar fo, some people won't enter magazine sweepstakes for less than say $10 million.  So, they hae to balance all those considerations.  And as part of the strategy to maximize the prize and minimize their cost, they buy the annuities well ahead of the time they actually award the prize.  They've probably already bought the annuities for NEXT year's $10 million winner, you know?  So, thjat's a year of interest accruing to help make it $10 million.  If they had to actually wait until the prize was awarded because the winner demanded "cash", that would impact their bottom line -- cost them more money for no good reason.  That would be silly for them to do and their shareholders would demand the managers be fired for even considering doing that. 

                         

                        It's true that it's easirer for a state or mult-state lottery to pay a cash option because they have to wait to see actual sales to buy the annuity, but still lotteries operate for the same reason that magazine sweepstakes exist.  They aren't giving away money out of the goodness of their heart -- they are giving away money for "business" reasons.  With lotteries it's business reasons mixed in with political reasons.  Extra taxes are unpopular but lotteries are a popular voluntary tax.  it's a way of increasing state coffers for various budget items without imposing extra property or sales taxes.  And anything that increases the cost of them doing business or is more trouble than it's worth is going to be frowned upon.  For the states who have the annuity-only lotteries, they have to actually re-write their lottery statues to allow cash option -- and in some cases that's more trouble than it's worth.  You start re-writing lottery laws and all the legislative members get involved trying to attach stipulations to siphon some of that magic money stream for their pet projects (to ensure their hold on power) -- which might mean lower jackpots for winners.  You are opening a pandora's box for no good reason. 

                        Sure you can ask that new lottery games have a cash option, but for others already established and for stuff like magazine sweepstakes, those winners should just be happy they are blessed to get annual instalments.  MANY, MANY people would LOVE to have that "problem."