Lottery Scams

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 2:06 PM

Slot Machines"Congratulations! You’ve won the National Lottery! To claim your prize, just send us cash to pay the taxes in advance."

Sound familiar? It’s a classic Nigerian letter scam - originating in Spain - that bilks thousands of people around the world out of an estimated $24 million a year and opens the door to future identity theft.

How does the scam work? The names and addresses of targets - all outside of the named country - are collected through the Internet. Then you, the target, get a letter from the National Lottery claiming you’ve won about a few hundred thousand dollars in a special promotional lottery. An estimated six million letters are sent a year. The letters look legitimate, complete with official logos and contact information. They also include a form from the bank where the money is supposedly being held. You might even receive follow-up faxes and phone calls.

Then the hook: all you have to do is pay taxes from the country - between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of the winnings - to get the money. Just fax your completed claim forms with personal and banking information and wire the money within a couple of days. If you take the bait, chances are you’ll be asked to cover other expenses, too.

The Spanish National Police (SNP) has relentlessly pursued criminals in their country who has behind such a scheme. In July last year, they launched a massive crackdown that resulted in 300 arrests, 150 searches, and the seizures of nearly 2,000 cell phones, hundreds of computers and fax machines, plenty of fake documents, and $265,000 in cash.

This is truly a 21st century concept of policing: working internationally to protect you in your community.

You cannot win money or a prize in a lottery unless you have entered it yourself, or someone else has entered it on your behalf. You cannot be chosen as a random winner if you don’t have an entry.

Many lottery scams try to trick you into providing your banking and personal details to claim your prize.

You should not have to pay any fee or tax to claim a legitimate prize. Don’t be fooled by claims that the offer is legal or has government approval - many scammers will tell you this. Instead of receiving a grand prize or fortune, you will lose every cent that you send to a scammer. And if you have provided other personal details, your identity could be misused too.

A fake prize scam will tell you that you have won a prize or a contest. You may receive a phone call, an email, a text message or see a pop-up screen on your computer. There are often costs involved with claiming your prize, and even if you do receive a prize, it may not be what was promised to you.

The scammers make their money by making you pay fees or taxes, call their premium rate phone numbers or send premium text messages to claim your prize. These premium rate calls can be very expensive, and the scammers will try to keep you on the line for a long time or ask you to call a different premium rate number.

Avoid from getting scammed by these and similar frauds? Here’s an good advice:

  • NEVER give personal information over the telephone, mail, or Internet unless you initiated the contact.
  • Do NOT wire money to strangers.
  • NEVER send money to collect a prize if a fee is required.
  • If you think you’re being targeted, contact your local authorities.

 

Pyramid systems

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, July 9, 2015 10:48 AM

Pyramid System ExampleA pyramid system - also referred to as franchise fraud or chain referral schemes - is an unsustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public. The real profit is earned, not by the sale of the product, but by the sale of new distributorships.

In a pyramid scheme, an organization compels individuals to make a payment and join. In exchange, the organization promises its new members a share of the money taken from every additional member that they recruit. The directors of the organization (those at the top of the pyramid) also receive a share of these payments. For the directors, the scheme is potentially lucrative - whether or not they do any work, the organization's membership has a strong incentive to continue recruiting and funneling money to the top of the pyramid.

Such organizations seldom involve sales of products or services with real value. Without creating any goods or services, the only ways for a pyramid scheme to generate revenue are to recruit more members or solicit more money from current members. Eventually, recruiting is no longer possible and the plurality of members are unable to profit from the scheme.

Emphasis on selling franchises rather than the product eventually leads to a point where the supply of potential investors is exhausted and the pyramid collapses. At the heart of each pyramid scheme is typically a representation that new participants can recoup their original investments by inducing two or more prospects to make the same investment. Promoters fail to tell prospective participants that this is mathematically impossible for everyone to do, since some participants drop out, while others recoup their original investments and then drop out.

Various forms of pyramid schemes are illegal in many countries including Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. Many other countries will follow by adjusting their law.

These types of schemes have existed for at least a century, some with variations to hide their true nature. Multi Level Marketing plans have also been classified as pyramid schemes.

Tips for Avoiding Pyramid Schemes:

  • Be wary of “opportunities” to invest your money in franchises or investments that require you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit or recoup your initial investment.

  • Independently verify the legitimacy of any franchise or investment before you invest.

More information about pyramid systems:

 

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I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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