Dear Ann Landers,
I am writing in response to the letter from the woman who thought she had won a multimillion-dollar foreign lottery. You missed a wonderful opportunity to educate your readers about a serious crime that most often victimizes seniors who can lose thousands of hard-earned dollars.
Playing foreign lotteries through the mail is illegal. Many such companies operate out of Canada to avoid prosecution while targeting victims in the United States. These companies use high-pressure tactics. They manipulate people into sending money to buy tickets. They keep the scam going by telling folks they have won small sums of money and then encouraging them to invest the money back into the lottery.
Foreign lotteries are an addictive form of gambling. In Oregon, some victims have lost thousands of dollars. Losses usually cannot be recovered. Companies sometimes claim they are collecting money for taxes, customs or other fees so they can offer a bigger prize. This is just another scam to get the victim to send more money. The victim will NEVER see the promised prize.
The U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have all been working to shut these lottery companies down. Readers who have been contacted by one of these scam artists should call their state attorney general's office for assistance. Please share this information with your readers so they can avoid becoming the next victim of these ruthless and illegal activities. -- Hardy Myers, attorney general, Oregon
Dear Attorney General Myers,
I have printed several letters over the years warning my readers about the various lotteries and sweepstakes that collect millions of dollars from gullible folks who don't stand the chance of the proverbial snowball in hell. One more such letter won't hurt, especially since it comes from an attorney general. Thanks for the verification.