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07/22/2015

Consumer Alert: No Big Payouts in the International Lottery

Consumer Alert: No Big Payouts in the International Lottery
 International scammers are once again turning to Arkansas to make some extra money by telling Arkansans they have won money in an international lottery. These con artists contact Arkansas consumers through direct mail, email or a phone call requesting a small fee in order to process these cash prizes.

Usually the con artist claims that the recipient has won a lottery or an expensive prize, such as a car or a trip. All the consumer has to do is submit either a small payment or personal financial information to claim the prize. Payments are often requested as “processing fees” or “customs charges.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to warn Arkansans about the dangers of falling for an international lottery scheme.

“International lottery ploys are another clever attempt to steal money from consumers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These scammers use lies and deceitful techniques to pressure Arkansans out of their hard-earned money. My office is committed to educating people to help them avoid becoming victims.”

Attorney General Rutledge offered the following tips for anyone who receives communication about a foreign lottery or prize:

  • A consumer should never have to pay something to receive a “free” prize. Be wary of anyone requiring payment in advance to obtain winnings.
  • Be cautious if someone asks that a fee be paid through a pre-paid credit card or by wiring money. If such payments are made, the money may never be seen again. Legitimate organizations will accept standard and traceable forms of payment.
  • It is a violation of federal law to play international lottery through mail or over the telephone.
  • People who accept these offers become targets of other scammers when their information is shared or sold to others.
  • Never provide any financial account information to an unknown person or entity. 

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service estimates Americans pay these scammers $120 million per year for this one scam as the Postal Service intercepts and destroys millions of foreign lottery mailings sent or delivered by the truckload into the United States.

Earlier this year, a Jamaican man was extradited to the U.S. where he pleaded guilty to 38 counts of conspiracy and wire fraud as part of an international lottery scheme. Damion Bryan Barrett, 29, is the first Jamaican citizen to be extradited to the United States based on charges of defrauding Americans in connection with a lottery scheme. 

For more information on what to do if you are a victim of a scam and tips on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982

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