The Walton Count Sheriff’s Office reminds residents about the recent increase in mail lottery scams. These scams have already victimized several innocent residents in Walton and surrounding counties.
The basic scam begins with a resident receiving a letter in the mail informing them that they have won a lottery in a foreign country. The letters are sometimes on what appears to be an official letterhead, but contains several spelling and/or grammatical errors.
The letter instructs you to either fill out the attached form with your personal information, to include bank account numbers, or to cash an enclosed check and return the money to “pay for insurance and transportation costs”. In the instance of the enclosed check, the check turns out to be counterfeit.
Both scams further request that the recipient contact a representative at the overseas corporation in order to activate the winnings.
Please do NOT follow these instructions. Since the scam originator typically is a foreign entity, neither the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, nor any of the federal agencies, can charge or arrest them at this time. Nor can we retrieve your funds from them.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center, http://www.ic3.gov, is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.
Here are some of their tips for dealing with this:
Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or contest.
Be cautious if you receive a telephone call stating you are the winner in a lottery.
Beware of lotteries that charge a fee prior to delivery of your prize.
Be wary of demands to send additional money to be eligible for future winnings.
It is a violation of federal law to play a foreign lottery via mail or phone.
We also want to remind citizens about something called “phishing”. This is where a “company” contacts you by the telephone, or even email, and tells you about a wonderful offer, such as extremely low credit card interest rates, free gas for a year, no-interest home financing, etc., and asks a series of personal questions.
Answering these questions may seem harmless but when you add up all the information they are “phishing” for, plus other information they may already have, you have helped them successfully steal your identity and/or your credit information.
Again, please be careful when talking to people over the phone or answering emails about your credit, bank, or personal information.
Finally, always remember, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.