Computer Crime Research Center


Lottery scam comes back

Date: July 17, 2006
By: Micah Flores Correspondent

At first, the Ross family thought they were lucky.

Now they realize they've lost $980 to a Canadian lottery scam.

Raymond Ross received a notice in the mail last month saying he won $85,000 from a Canadian-based sweepstakes contest. But first he would have to pay a $980 non-resident government tax fee on his winnings.

Enclosed with the notice was what the Rosses thought was an authentic-looking Wells Fargo cashiers check written to them for the amount of $1,200. The fee was to be deducted from the original check amount, and then forwarded via Money Gram to an address in Vancouver, Britis Columbia.

They planned to keep the leftover balance, and then collect their winnings.

"We were desperate because we so badly wanted to get out of our current \ situation," said Joni Ross, 35, wife and mother of two.

But what they were not aware of is that U.S. citizens can't legally participate in foreign lotteries.

And according to Staff Sgt. Barry Elliot of the Canadian-based Phone Busters anti-fraud agency, any legitimate sweepstakes contest would not require an upfront fee.

"There's a real lack of knowledge," Elliot said. "They don't realize they're being scammed. The bank accepts the check, and they think everything will be OK."

Raymond Ross is a custodian in a local school district and his wife works part time. They and their two teenage boys live in a one-bedroom home in Azusa.

Joni Ross contacted the Canadian number on the notice and spoke with a supposed client-care manager who verified the winnings.

They then deposited the $1,200 check into their bank. After transferring the requested $980 into an account, they waited.
Original article

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