11/30/09 – The British media are carrying a warning from the Office of Fair Trading, which reports that hundreds of thousands of Brits have been conned by fake lottery scams.
Officials say that about 140 000 people fall victim to this type of fraud each year, costing the public up to a staggering GBP260 million. The average loss is around GBP 1 900 per person, but through embarrassment or other causes only six percent of victims report incidents to the authorities.
A spokesman said that the scams often start with a promise of cash winnings and visions of a millionaire lifestyle in a letter, e-mail or telephone call.
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"We never advise players that they have won a prize via an unsolicited letter, email or telephone call." warned Paul Jay, of Camelot, operator of the UK's National Lottery. "And we never ask for up-front fees or personal information," he added.
"If you haven't purchased a ticket for The UK National Lottery, you won't have won a prize – and we urge players to treat letters, e-mails and phone calls telling you otherwise with absolute caution."
Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan said the UK government was working to stamp out the scam. "We already have "Scambusters" teams throughout the country and, as we announced earlier this year, we are planning to set up new internet enforcement teams to target online scams to protect consumers," he told reporters.
For information on avoiding lottery scams, visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/lotteryscams