International Lottery Winnings Program Scams - 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.
"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!"
After receiving this card you call the number provided and listen
to someone enthusiastically promote the benefits of purchasing
a "membership" in a lottery "pool".
"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 one
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.
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 four-color invitation brochure)
and that they limit the number of lottery tickets that are sold
to help your odds of winning.
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!
Lump Sum! Tax free! Your odds of winning are only 1-6!
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 one 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
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 one variation of an advance
Just two 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, M/C 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
15-20% 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.
How Can You Live On That?
"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 one 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
More examples at Lottery Scam, Lotto International, Lottery Scams, Nigerian Lottery Scams, Jamaican Lottery Scam, Latin Lotto, Fake Lottery Tickets.
Everyone's a Winner!
I stumbled across your website while researching a letter I received
from the "El Gordo Sweepstake Lottery Company S.A".
I was looking through the letters and the one from Ruth Krammer
stood out! Her letter was identical to mine right down to the ticket
and serial numbers!
Thanks for letting me know this letter is a fraud!
Denise Cork 29 Sep 2001
The 'Winning Numbers Service' Scam
Lottery scammers are always trying to develop new lists of potential
victims. One method used is to send out a mailing, or place ads,
which invite lottery players to subscribe to a service that has
an amazing record of picking winning numbers.
They will claim that they have a computer with artificial intelligence
or that they have a renowned mathematician on staff. They typically
charge a nominal fee of $20 to $30 for their service. In most cases,
the numbers sent to you are merely randomly selected numbers or
pre-printed forms containing identical numbers.
By subscribing to their service, they know that you are interested
in playing the lotteries so your name will be placed on their lead
lists for other scams and/or sold to other scammers and list brokers.
Trouble in Paradise
The so-called "New Jackpot Mondial Monaco" lottery became
available recently and has since become increasingly popular with
families, both in the main island of Tahiti as well as in French
Polynesia's outer islands.
But all of them have lost one thousand US dollars each, which
is the required sum in order to qualify for a win of $150,000 US
dollars "to be won within 90 days".
The game was advertised by way of mailed leaflets which stated "It's
very simple. This system relies on arithmetic and logic, it leads
all participants to big gains. But beware! Please only send
US dollars, we cannot accept any other form of payment".
and Sweepstakes Victim
From Jess H. 9 Aug 2000
I am in a real quandary here. An elderly man who has been
like a father to me is getting BILKED, and I MEAN BILKED BAD! He
is completely hooked on this whole telemarketer/sweepstakes thing
and the whole family is at a loss for what to do.
We have tried talking to him and he will not listen, he thinks
we are the ones who are crazy! He was forced into retirement
2 years ago, primarily because as a real estate agent, no one was
requesting his services. This has become his new line of
work it seems. He is consumed by it.
He is away for a few days so my mother took myself and my wife
to his house to show us the current state of affairs. He
has boxes of replies paper-clipped to envelopes waiting to be sent
out. His check registers are full of entries for $12.99 here,
$18.99 there, $24.99 and so on, going back two years.
He has sent EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS to the CANADIAN LOTTERY!?!?!?!?
What do we do. He is 85 years old and has precious little
left. He recently took out a second mortgage for $150,000 to pay
off past credit card debt and bills that have been piling up. We contacted
the Elderly Protection Agency and they actually went to his house
and interviewed him. They said that since he was "sane" there
was nothing that they could do. There will be nothing left
Les, I'm an attorney and willing to take whatever action is required
to protect this man from himself. In addition, I am a recovering
alcoholic with eleven years sober and I know that one addict talking
to another helps when precious little else can. Are there
others out there who have been through this that could talk to
this man? Are there any support groups.
I am willing to go anywhere and talk to anyone. And Les, THANK
YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for your website. When I returned
home tonight I didn't know what to do. Your site was like
finding an Oasis. I can't thank you enough for your work.
I live in California in Redwood City and Ted is in Foster City,
CA. Any leads or light you can shed would be greatly appreciated. I
thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Sincerely Jess L.
I am as horrified in hearing your story as I was when I researched
the material for the site. The sheer volume of victims is as mind-boggling
as their losses. What is worse is the inability of the victims
to grasp the fact that they are victims, so adept are the operators
of these scams.
As for help, I am afraid it is sadly lacking in our society though
you may find help from Phonebusters here in Canada, who take calls
from victims and filter back the info to authorities here and the
U.S where the sentencing is much higher.
The FTC have a complaint form as does the National Consumers League
so try www.ftc.gov www.fraud.org and search my site for Phonebusters
and also review the section on victim assistance for further ideas
and contacts. The Attorney General for your state often has a task
force dealing with this issue as well. Beyond that you might print
out the section that deals with his scam and let him read it.
I sincerely hope he gets the help he needs before it is too late.
Would you mind if I paraphrased your plea onto my message board
section leaving out your personal details ) so that if there is
another viewer who can help, you might receive it that way.
Just be careful you don't fall for a recovery scam operation down
the road. For now good luck and keep in touch. Les
Please feel free to post my plea on your board and THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR YOUR WORK!
German Lottery Agent Scam
Have you heard of the North West German State Lottery?
Do they seem real? I found two of their sites, but one at www.millionwinnings.de/
has been taken down. The other is written solely in German but
translated at: www.nkl-lotterie.de/
My 91 year old grandfather has sent one, G. Stepulack, $1600 Canadian
dollars over a period of six months to participate in a daily lottery.
I didn't become aware of this until he asked me to make sure he
had sent enough money to be in the "big" draw that was
coming up and he didn't want to be left out. I started to
wonder who, exactly, had received this money, and have been researching
this company ever since.
It seems the USPS has known about this man since 1995 and although
nothing much has been printed about him they apparently have a
notice saying mail directed to this individual in Germany is not
to be sent.
P.O. Box 2363,
32013 Herford, Germany.
also G. Stepulack OHG
Liebigstrasse 3 ( BigLieStreet? )
32052 Herford, Germany
The L.A. seems to stand for Lottery Agent! The police here say
he is actually a legitimate seller of the state sponsored NKL Lotterie
Einnehmer lottery tickets there, although it is illegal to sell
or buy them in Canada or the U.S.
How did I deal with my grandfather? He was irate that I dared
question this person. So, I sat down and told him that I totally
supported his playing lotteries (I lied), and that I wanted him
to continue...all I wanted to do was look at the material, note
a couple of things to make some enquiries, but that it was really
nothing as I was sure he was right.
I would look into being sure he was to be the next millionaire
and that I likely totally wrong about my instincts. When he knew
that I was on his side and wasn't going to stop him, he let me
If you have senior who is being bilked, agree with them. They
feel badly enough having lost the money without someone questioning
their judgment as well. Take down necessary info: any personal
names, phone numbers, addresses, name of lottery or scam, to whom
the cheque should be made to, etc., then check them out through
If you find that it is a scam, then please help others by reporting
the activity everywhere (the newspaper, the BBB, the RCMP or equivalent,
the postal service, and internet sites such as this one).
Hopefully we can help others avoid this type of financial loss,
emotional trauma and embarrassment.
Thanks for a great site,
Joanna Stephenson 01/23/02
Not A Good Gamble
On November 13, 2000, a criminal complaint was filed in the Central
District of California against Timothy Ryan Babuin,
with respect to his role in a Vancouver telemarketing company, NAGG
Holdings which allegedly sold bogus lottery tickets and
bogus savings bonds to U.S. and Canadian victims.
Babuin was arrested in Canada, and an extradition request has
been filed with Canadian authorities.
Worth The Drive
On May 22, 2000, two Montreal telemarketers, George R.
Gilham and Lisa A. Pomerantz were sentenced
in the Central District of California to 30 months and 27 months
imprisonment, respectively after pleading guilty.
They had been arrested in Los Angeles on November 17, 1999, after
attempting to pick up $140,000 in cash from an elderly victim in
return for a counterfeit $5.5 million check, purportedly for "lottery
They reportedly drove all the way from Montreal to Los Angeles
for the transaction.
Warnings Don't Seem To Work
On February 7, 2000, a criminal complaint was issued in the Central
District of California, charging Michael Ghirra,
of Vancouver, B.C., with wire fraud and mailing lottery communications.
As the owner and operator of WIN USA (aka International
Registration Australian Lottery (IRAL), International Canadian
Lottery System, and Ipex Services Ltd.)
from approximately April 1997 through November 1998, he reportedly
obtained approximately $5 million from his lottery operations
over this short period of time.
Ghirra had previously been a defendant in a civil action filed
by the FTC on November 7, 1998 concerning his activities with WIN
USA and IRAL. That civil action resulted in the granting
of the FTC’s motion for summary judgment on April 13, 2000.
01/02 - The Toronto Strategic Partnership charged
one man with fraud over $5000 and continue to investigate a fraudulent
lottery scammer who targeted American citizens.
It is alleged that between November 2001 and January 2002, Sean
Patrick O'Keefe, 34, was involved in a lottery scam
whereby victims in his native United States were contacted and
advised that they were winners of a two million dollar lottery.
His company, Portico Communications, advised victims to send money
for customs fees and taxes via Western Union to a financial institution
in the United States. The money was then rerouted to a Toronto
branch where he collected the funds.
During this brief time period at least four American senior citizens
ranging in age from 71 years to 80 years of age sent in $207,500
11/01 - The Toronto Strategic Partnership charged
one man with fraud over $5000 and continues to investigate a fraudulent
lottery targeting American senior citizens which may have brought
in over $200,000.
It is alleged that between September 2001 and November 5, 2001 Ronald
Joseph Frenette, 57, contacted senior citizens in the
U.S., informing them that they were winners of a Canadian lottery.
In order to have their fictitious winnings forwarded to them
they were required to send various dollar amounts to cover the
tax and administration costs. During this time period the
suspect received 25 wire transfers in amounts ranging from $465
- $2000 totaling $27,857.00 USD.
Swept Off Her Feet
10/03 CONYERS —Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office reports
show that an elderly woman was recently notified that she had won
$150,000 from the Motor Vehicle Association Sweepstakes in
The man who phoned her with the “good news”identified
himself as an employee with the Federal Consumer Protection
Agency and went on to tell the woman she “would
have to pay $750 to a Lloyd’s of London representative in
order to cover taxes associated with the prize, as it was actually
being funded by a Canadian lottery.”
The woman was instructed to send the money via Western Union to
a specific subject via a specific routing number.
The money was sent and picked up by an individual in Costa Rica. The
following day, when the woman was again contacted and asked to
send an additional $3,000 for taxes, she contacted RCSO and the
incident was ultimately referred to state and federal agencies
for further investigation.
Lottery Calls From Con-ada
I live in the UK and last night received a very strange phone
call from a man with an African sounding accent, calling himself
He claimed to be calling from Canada and stated that I had won
the Canadian Lottery. When I told him I did not play it he
said "That's strange, your number was on a winners list in
the last two weeks." He then gave me my full name and
address details correctly. However, I said I was in the middle
of cooking a meal and he promised to call back in 20 minutes though
he never did.
How would I find out if what he said was true and how would he
have got all my address details? I checked later with phone
company to get a call-back number, which they could not give but
confirmed that it was an international call, therefore did not
register on the 1471 service we have here.
Name withheld 02/13/02
11/01 - International criminals are scamming
pensioners with a fake Canadian lottery scheme, asking victims
to send a fee of the equivalent of $2,335 CAD to collect winnings
that don't exist, according to Britain's National Criminal Intelligence
Canadian fraudsters telephone British residents telling them they
have been entered into the Canadian National Lottery for free. A
few weeks later they call back to tell the person they have won
a huge prize, but then demand several thousand pounds to pay for
the tax on the winnings.
Or victims simply receive a telephone call saying they have won
a substantial amount of money in Canada, but are told they need
to send an "administrative fee" to release their winnings.
No such lottery by that name exists.
Complaints can be directed to the European Enforcement team at
Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX or e-mail
See the section on Lead Generation and Advance
I am very glad I found your site. My fiancé and
I became victims of the Canadian Lottery Scam by sending
in over $1000 in hopes of a winning that was never to be.
How silly we were to fall for this type of scam, but we did,
and now we are just sick. Is there a chance we could get
our money back or did we just learn an expensive lesson?
01/02 - A Texas senior received a letter in the
mail from the "Canadian National Lotteries ( TransNational
Trade Consortium)" notifying her that she was one of the winners
in a lottery pool. She was then contacted by phone by a person
who instructed her to wire $1,800.00 to a person in Quebec, Canada. see
also Advance Fee Sweeps.
Selling dreams... at a 300% markup By
Robert Cribb Staff reporter
to this excellent report.
VANCOUVER - Just above a plumbing supply store, on the second
floor of a nondescript gray building in industrial Vancouver, a
receptionist buzzes visitors into the offices of C-W Agencies.
Inside, bland concrete transforms into stylish glass walls and
plush seating. A sprawling array of more than 100 desks is filled
with people tapping on computer keyboards or working the phones
beneath a series of large clocks indicating the time in places
like Amsterdam, Hong Kong, London and Auckland, New Zealand.
It bears little resemblance to Toronto's "boiler room" telemarketing
operations, where slick-sounding sales staff pitch misleading credit
card offers to Americans - usually targeting the poor and elderly.
Their offices are generally dingy, with perhaps 20 desks and a
bank of phones. Sales staff have no computers, just a "sucker
list" of vulnerable marks and a script they read into the
phone and embellish with lies.
Most telemarketing firms in Canada are strictly law-abiding and
deliver a variety of legitimate goods and services. Some commit
outright telephone fraud. Others, such as Vancouver's C-W Agencies,
stand in a gray zone of legality.
A giant banner stretches across one side of the bustling Vancouver
room, declaring: "Congratulations. We Did It. We Beat Last
Spanning the other side of the room, another banner reads: "Goal
for 2002 ... We Can Do It ... $75,000,000."
They "do it" by selling lottery tickets to customers
around the world. They move Canadian Lotto 6/49, Canada's Super
7, Instant Million, and Mega Millions, along with French, Spanish,
German, British and Australian lottery tickets. It's a large, sophisticated
- and highly controversial - business.
The firm claims 700 employees and two international subsidiaries.
Randall Thiemer, president and CEO of C-W Agencies, says his
company's annual gross income is close to $100 million.
"We're by far the biggest (lottery ticket reseller) in the
world," he beams.
B.C. consumer protection legislation, proclaimed in August, makes
it illegal to resell lottery tickets without authorization or special
licensing. And no individuals or companies have been licensed as
yet, authorities say.
C-W's Thiemer insists that while he has not been licensed to
resell lottery tickets under the new legislation, he has been assured
by authorities that he will receive one as soon as they start being
"We've been working very closely with the government and
our understanding is that we'll be given every opportunity to be
licensed. We've got advocates in the legislature. We've been negotiating
and that's what we're working toward."
In the meantime, any company reselling lottery tickets in B.C.
is doing so illegally, says Derek Sturko, of B.C.'s Gaming Policy
and Enforcement Branch, authors of the legislation.
Thiemer says he'll simply move his operation to Europe if he
doesn't get the B.C. license.
"Either way, nothing's going to change."
Lotteries are covered by gambling laws to protect consumers from
exploitation. Reselling foreign lottery tickets is illegal in Canada
and the United States because licensing bodies would no longer
be able to guarantee that protection.
C-W Agencies ran afoul of U.S. law four years ago. The firm pleaded
guilty to criminal charges, was fined $500,000 (US), and was ordered
to "cease all marketing of lottery products to United States
A bubbly 20-something female recruiter for the firm greets a
job seeker with an impressive patter about money-making prospects.
"If you're motivated by money and know how to sell, this
is the place to be," she tells a reporter posing as a potential
employee. "It's an incredibly lucrative business. We're selling
people dreams, and the idea of making money overnight."
Authorities say that cash is generated by charging foreign consumers
a lot more than the actual cost of lottery tickets. For example,
according to the company Web site, C-W Agencies sells 10 Canadian
6/49 tickets for $30 (US), about $48 Canadian.
The cost of those tickets, at a lottery booth, is $1 a piece,
for a total of $10 (Can.).
"They're obviously charging significantly more than the
tickets are worth - a 300 per cent mark-up," says Jim Cronin,
a spokesperson with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
C-W's Theimer says his prices are consistent with the rest of
the lottery resale industry and are based on markups required to
turn a profit.
"We're not making a lot of money doing this."
A common lottery scam on the west coast involves staff in telemarketing
boiler rooms calling Americans and Europeans and telling them they've
already won a Canadian lottery prize. C-W Agencies does not do
this, but other Vancouver telemarketers are involved in such fraud.
They tell people they've won a huge prize and need only to pay
taxes and an administration fee, usually between $5,000 and $50,000,
Robert Cribb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Articles dealing with Lottery Scams.
Nigerian Advance Fee Lottery Winning Notification Scams
Take Special Note: The examples you will
see on the Nigerian
Advance Fee Lottery Scam page, while promoting the fact that
you have won a lottery, are sent predominantly by email and represent
a consumer focused version of the Nigerian
Advance Fee Fraud which usually targets businesses and religious
The Nigerian scammers running this operation out of a base in
the Netherlands find that collectively seeking an average victim
loss of about $1500 from individuals is easier and quicker than
the average $10,000 they regularly take from businessmen who are
offered a percentage of millions of dollars for their assistance
in transferring funds overseas.
Note: The names of some reputable and valid lotteries
have been misused by the scammers.
Other Lottery Scam links.
World Lottery Organization list
of lottery fraud operations or illicit lottery activities.
Prize Scams - NZ Gov
Lottery Scam - FTC warning