|Posted: September 11, 2008, 12:30 pm - IP Logged|
I have no doubt that there are a number of foreign lottery scams going on right now. But, I also have no doubt that there are a number of "legitimate" foreign lotteries. Years ago, my ex and I played the Gold Coast Lottery out of Australia (Queensland) by mail. We didn't win so much money we could retire (grin), but we DID win a few times. One check I got was big enough to pay a monthly electric bill ... and one check my ex got was big enough to buy two weeks worth of groceries. The only mailings we got came from Australia. And once a month, we'd get a list of the winning numbers in the Gold Coast Lottery (which could be verified elsewhere, I might add). And when we noticed that our numbers "came up," and about three weeks later, we'd each receive checks mailed from Australia - in U.S. funds drawn on a U.S. bank account in Hawaii (the bank also had an office in Queensland).
The thing that got us to play was the fact that, back then anyway, Australian lottery winnings were not taxed in Australia. Further, if you were lucky enough to win a jackpot in excess of $1,000,000 AUD, the lottery would fly you at their expense to Brisbane to give you a check personally - and (ahem) anonymously if you wished.
I no longer play any foreign lottery and doubt if my ex does either. It's not that we didn't like playing. We certainly didn't believe we were being scammed. But, it just became easier to play domestic lottery games - and we've been just as lucky (or unlucky) doing so.
In any case, I just wanted to make a comment in "Devil's Advocate" mode (grin). If you go to the website set up by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and visit their page titled "International Lottery Scams," you'll notice that they list certain "cautions" to players.
Caution #1 is, quote, "If you play a foreign lottery — through the mail or over the telephone — you’re violating federal law."
My response? Heck, that's not a "caution" to players, it's a "threat."
Caution #2 is, quote, "There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none."
My response? Uhhh ... can't that be said of any lottery, foreign or domestic?
Caution #3 is, quote, "If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment “opportunities.” Your name will be placed on “sucker lists” that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell."
My response? Never once did we ever receive ANY such mailing. All we got were lists of winning numbers of drawings once monthly (and more blank tickets if we wanted to change our numbers) and checks when we won.
Caution #4 is, quote, "Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch."
Good advice. However, a lottery is not always a "scam" by nature. My ex and I paid with our credit cards and had no problem. In fact, the only instance of credit card fraud I've ever had in my life was when I bought an old 78 rpm record from an "established" seller of old-time recordings in Arizona. I bought the record over the phone ... and within a week, had a bunch of weird charges on my account ... the first one being at another establishment in Arizona. Online or offline, giving your credit card number out to ANYBODY is a crap-shoot. A purchase is only as secure as the reputation of the people on the other end.
Based on the order in which those "cautions" are listed, I think the FTC is perhaps being a bit disingenuous. Sure, I'm certain they're concerned about people becoming victims of fraud. But that very first "caution" listed sounds more like pressure from the I.R.S. to scare people away from getting into situations that might generate "unreported income" (grin).
Anyhoo, I was wondering if anyone else here has played a foreign lottery (or still plays a foreign lottery) - and what your experiences with them have been.
Regards -- J. Alec West