The Federal Trade Commission is urging consumers to beware of a foreign lottery scam that adopts the name of Spain’s largest lottery prize, “El Gordo,” to con consumers out of substantial sums of money. According to the Spanish government, consumers in the United States may receive phony letters, as well as forged materials purporting to be from Spanish banks, that claim that these consumers have been the “lucky winners” of a large cash prize. To claim the prize, the consumer is told he or she must pay a sum that goes toward the taxes, bank costs, and processing fees necessary to deliver the prize money.
The real drawing for the “El Gordo” prize takes place during the holiday season. The Spanish government indicates that the fraudsters who carry out the phony drawing use the actual addresses of official Spanish organizations to make their scam appear legitimate.
If you receive a letter this holiday season claiming you have won a big prize in a foreign lottery, do not pay any money – it is a scam. The FTC reminds U.S. consumers that participating in a foreign lottery is illegal. An FTC Consumer Alert, “International Lottery Scams,” available at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt022.htm, explains the dangers of foreign lottery fraud and provides these useful tips to prevent consumers from being duped.
The FTC encourages consumers to give any suspicious “lottery” material from a foreign country to a local postmaster. You can also report it to the FTC at www.ftc.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP, or contact your state Attorney General. For more information on foreign lottery scams and other types of international fraud, visit www.ftc.gov/crossborder.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.