Lottery scam uses fake cheques to trap victimsScam asks victims for 'necessary payments'

19 June 2006

Consumers have been warned about a new lottery scam which uses counterfeit cheques to lure people into believing the promised win is genuine.

But victims who get caught up in the scam face losing thousands if they send off money to claim their 'winnings'.

The letter from the 'Australian Lottery Corporation' - which uses a Canadian address - tells people they've won US dollars 750,000 but must first pay for taxes and insurance. A USD 4,880 cheque, which is personally made out to the recipient - and allegedly drawn on a reputable American bank, is also attached to the letter.

Counterfeit cheque

The cheque is supposed to be part of the alleged winnings that can be used to cover the 'necessary payments' the consumer needs to make before they receive the full prize.

But the cheque is counterfeit, and it can take up to six weeks for it go be processed through the banking system. By that time the consumer could be liable for any funds they spend while waiting for the cheque to be processed.

Christine Wade, Director of Consumer Regulation Enforcement at the Office of Fair Trading said: 'Lottery scams have been around for a number of years but the use of a counterfeit cheque is a worrying development. Scams are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and everyone needs to be on their guard.'

Millions trapped by scams

Which? research in January revealed that 5 million people across the UK have been duped into responding to scams. Almost 8 million people had seen or received material promoting international lotteries.

Our advice is to remember that you can't win a lottery unless you've entered. Also, legitimate lotteries don't ask you to pay taxes, custom fees, insurance, shipping or handling or any other fee before receiving your 'winnings'.

If you want to report a suspicious 'win', contact Consumer Direct.