Lottery Fraud: Yet Another Scam
We are now representing a client who has been a victim of the so-called "El Gordo Lottery Fraud", where unscroupulous conmen, who say represent a company called "El Gordo Sweepstakes Company SL", notify the selected winner of the award of a lottery price worth 750.000 USD that he should forward details of a designated account of his choice in order that the funds can be transferred.
On receiving the fax with the price award, it would not be unreasonable to bin it. However, the conmen prepared a number of documents amongst which one could find a false letter from the Banco Santander, addressed to the client informing him of the prize being held in an account and a letter from the Spanish Ministry of Finances - "Ministerio de Finanzas"- where the winner is informed that the prize lottery complied with Spanish Laws and regulations. Image 1 shows a scanned copy of this letter. Note that we have ommited name and address of the defrauded person for confidentiality reasons.
Image 1: False letter from the spanish "Ministerio de Finanzas" (higher resolution)
The fraud money is obtained from the client when he is told, once the transfer for the proceeds of the lottery prize is to be inminently effected, that taxes on the said prize have not been paid and therefore the transfer is put on hold. In order to release the prize, the winner is requested to pay almost two percent of it to the Ministry of Finance, which does not exist in Spain under that name, via transfers made through Western Union Money Transfer offices. Image 2 shows the false letter which was sent to the defrauded person. Name and address have been ommited for confidentiality reasons.
Image 2: False letter from the Banco de Santander (higher resolution)
Once the transfer is made the deceipt is consumated and the fraudsters are not contactable again. The audacity and organisation of these conmen is such that they are using either false passports or ´surrogate´ people to receive the funds through the Western Union facilities possibly in exchange of a percentage.
The new technologies are proving invaluable to commit the acts. Prepaid mobile phones in all communications, even faxes, untraceable email addreses, possibly sophisticated devices to copy passports, subscription databases stolen or purchased from prestigious weekly papers such as Time and Newsweek which are used to target clients and possibly other means to achieve their nefarious activities.
We are now relying on the investigations of the Spanish Police Fraud Squad we hope that, at least in Spain, the media takes up these fraud cases and warns the public of the activities of the fraudsters.
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