The Radnor Police Department has posted updated information on the following fraud tactics that are occurring throughout the region. The below listed scams are occurring throughout our region. If you believe that you have been targeted or may have been a victim contact the Radnor Police by dialing 9-1-1.
Foreign Canadian International Lottery Winnings Program Scams
This scam can come to you by Internet email, telephone and mail fraud sweepstake lotto ticket sales scam. Tired of not winning the government sponsored lotteries after years of playing, you are pleased to receive the following mailer. It'll say one of the following things:
- "Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $400,000 U.S. CASH!"
- "One Lump Sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6."
- "Hundreds of people win every week using our secret system!"
- "You can win as much as you want!"
Purchasing a MembershipAfter receiving this card you call the number provided and listen to someone enthusiastically promote the benefits of purchasing a "membership" in a lottery "pool." They'll say that, "These group purchases let you share in a series of ticket packages consisting of high-stakes foreign lotteries from Canada and as far away as Spain, Germany and Australia". The memberships range in price from $29 to thousands of dollars, depending upon how many individual and group plays are purchased, as well as upon how many weeks worth of tickets you purchase.
During the phone call they convince you to buy a membership by saying that you have been "specially selected" as 1 of a small group to play for a large prize pool; that your odds of winning a large prize are "from very good to practically guaranteed" and that your chances of winning are "definitely enhanced" by purchasing through them.
Their Fake Credentials
They say that purchasing their services is a "once in a lifetime chance" to win large sums of money because "this is not a losing chance," and that they employ "experts who are able to choose the highest frequency numbers using scientific methods." They say that they are legally registered by the various foreign governments to sell the lottery tickets, that they are the sole agent for the lotteries in Australia and for the Northwest German State Lottery (which features a 4 -color invitation brochure) and that they limit the number of lottery tickets that are sold to help your odds of winning.
Types of Tickets
One brochure gives you the option of buying a "full ticket" for $766.90 or a "half ticket" for $391.90. After paying, you receive a "confirmation package" containing a listing of the numbers on your tickets and a letter informing you:
- You may WIN and receive a certified check for up to $10,000,000 U.S. CASH!
- One Lump Sum! Tax free! Your odds of winning are only 1-6!
- That is FANTASTIC! GREAT! THE BEST!
The confirmation package contains a "Customer Service" 800 number so you can contact them with questions about credit card billing. It also contains a credit card "authorization" slip for you to sign and return, even though they have already charged your credit card for the purchase.
This authorization will be used to persuade dissatisfied consumers not to seek a charge-back from their credit card company. Contrary to their assertions and fanciful names like Big Win International, Marathon Award Centre or Sunshine Fortuity, the odds of winning anything in these foreign lotteries are non-existent. They do not have special systems which enhance your odds of winning; you have not been specially selected as 1 of a small group to play for a large prize; and it is illegal for them to sell foreign lottery tickets to you and for you to purchase foreign lottery tickets from them.
Where your Money Goes
They fail to disclose that only a small portion of the money you pay to them is used for the actual purchase of tickets. In fact, investigations show that less than 7% of the money you pay goes to the purchase of tickets. After paying about $1 per ticket, they charge as much as $100 per ticket or share in a ticket. Any lottery tickets they do purchase are not sent to you but are kept, along with the proceeds of any winning tickets, by the organizers.
On occasion they indicate that you have won a major cash prize but that to secure the release of the prize, you are required to pay an up-front fee to the company. No prize has been awarded and you become another victim of just 1 variation of an advance fee fraud.
Just 2 such telemarketers have agreed to pay $900,000 for using illegal and deceptive practices when selling these foreign lottery tickets. Over $438,000 in restitution will be distributed to 2,700 consumers who were solicited to buy individual tickets or group shares in the Australian or Spanish lotteries.
People, many of whom are elderly, pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars, sometimes borrowing money or otherwise straining their finances, in the expectation of winning. One 83 year old, Houston, Texas woman bought more than $35,000 in lottery tickets in just a few months after being repeatedly called and harassed by the telemarketers.
Federal law enforcement authorities are intercepting and destroying millions of foreign lottery mailings which are delivered by the truckload into the U.S. consumers, lured by prospects of instant wealth, are responding to the solicitations that do get through, to the tune of at least $120 million a year, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Many of the packages sold are charged to a Visa, MasterCard or American Express. As they can not get a valid merchant account, through which they can process these credit card transactions, they pay other companies to launder their credit card sales drafts for a 15 to 20% fee in a process called "factoring".
This use of other businesses' merchant accounts to process their credit card transactions is not authorized by the credit card companies. Woofter Investment Corp, a Las Vegas firm run by Patsy M. Barbour, also known as Patsy Barbour-Woofter, that processed credit card sales drafts for over fifty Canadian foreign lottery telemarketers has agreed to pay $1,000,000 in redress.
Typical Lottery Names
"Transworld Lottery Commission", the "World Currency Transfer Reserve", the "International Lottery Commission", the "Subscription Processing Department" and "El Gordo - The Fat One" are the multiple names of 1 organization which promises that you will be eligible for chances to win your share of from $45 million to more than $1.2 Billion in prizes.
You are instructed to include from $9.95 to $160, depending on which package you choose, when you return your claim form. The offer claims that payouts to players are "100% confidential and will be paid directly to you in U.S. dollars, with no taxes withheld."
Phishing is a scam where internet fraudsters send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. To avoid getting hooked:
- Don't reply to email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information, and don't click on links in the message. Don't cut and paste a link from the message into your web browser. Phishers can make links look like they go one place, but that actually send you to a different site.
- Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." Because they use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly.
- Don't email personal or financial information.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
- Forward phishing emails to the government email - and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. You also may report phishing email to the anti-phishing organization. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
- If you've been scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website.
How Not To Get Hooked by a "Phishing" Scam
These are the types of emails phisher's send.
- "We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity."
- "During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn't verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information."
Have you received email with a similar message? It's a scam called "phishing" and it involves internet fraudsters who send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal information (credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information) from unsuspecting victims.
According to OnGuard Online, phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you may deal with. For example, these may include an Internet Service Provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message may ask you to "update," "validate," or "confirm" your account information. Some phishing emails threaten a dire consequence if you don't respond. The messages direct you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization's site. But it isn't. It's a bogus site whose sole purpose is to trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
OnGuard Online suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
Do Not Reply
If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don't click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address yourself. In any case, don't cut and paste the link from the message into your internet browser. Phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.
Don't Believe Area Codes
Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send emails that appear to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." Because they use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card. And delete any emails that ask you to confirm or divulge your financial information.
Use Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware Software
Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the internet without your knowledge.
Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
A firewall helps make you invisible on the internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
Don't Send Sensitive InformationDon't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer's security.
Learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam online.
Report Phishing Emails
Forward phishing emails to the U.S. Government and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems. You also may report phishing email to the Anit-Phising Organization. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
If You are a Victim
If you believe you've been scammed, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and then visit the FTC's identity theft website. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the 3 major credit reporting companies. See Annual Credit Report for details on ordering a free annual credit report.
If you believe you've been scammed:
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Report it to your state Attorney General, using contact information online.
- Then visit the FTC's identity theft website. While you can't completely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.
- You also may report phishing email to the anti-phishing organization's email. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
- Please contact your local police.
Nigerian letter frauds combine the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, mailed from Nigeria, offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, a self-proclaimed government official, is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria. The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationery, bank name and account numbers and other identifying information using a facsimile number provided in the letter. Some of these letters have also been received via Email through the Internet. The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim, who has demonstrated a "propensity for larceny" by responding to the invitation, to send money to the author of the letter in Nigeria in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.
Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria. In actuality, the millions of dollars do not exist and the victim eventually ends up with nothing but loss. Once the victim stops sending money, the perpetrators have been known to use the personal information and checks that they received to impersonate the victim, draining bank accounts and credit card balances until the victim's assets are taken in their entirety.
Millions of Dollars Lost
While such an invitation impresses most law-abiding citizens as a laughable hoax, millions of dollars in losses are caused by these schemes annually. Some victims have been lured to Nigeria, where they have been imprisoned against their will, in addition to losing large sums of money. The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to victims of these schemes, since the victim actually conspires to remove funds from Nigeria in a manner that is contrary to Nigerian law. The schemes themselves violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label "419 fraud."
Some tips to avoid Nigerian letter or "419" fraud:
- If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel.
- If you know someone who is corresponding in 1 of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
- Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
- Guard your account information carefully.