Spanish Lottery Scam Targets New Yorkers

Attorney General Spitzer today issued a consumer warning about a foreign lottery scam preying upon New Yorkers with false promises of enormous winnings.

Numerous consumers have contacted Spitzer’s office about El Gordo Lottery from Madrid, Spain. Recipients of the lottery mailing and telemarketing scam report that they are informed by the "International Lotto Commission" that they’ve won hundreds of thousands of dollars in its lottery.

Consumers are then given various factitious reasons for sending money in advance of receiving their lottery winnings, including insurance or administrative costs, taxes and fees.

Other offers require that individuals provide personal and other banking information before the award is issued.

Nearly 90 consumers have filed complaints and countless other individuals have contacted Spitzer’s office inquiring about the legitimacy of the El Gordo sweepstakes. Some have reported losing thousands of dollars in advance payments for lottery winnings that never arrive.

For those consumers who provide bank information or copies of cancelled checks, the scammers use this information to empty the victims’ bank accounts or steal their identities.

"International sweepstakes and lottery offers are invariably a scam," Spitzer said. "Do not let promises of enormous winnings deceive you into giving up your confidential information or your hard-earned money," Spitzer said.

Spitzer warned New Yorkers that federal law prohibits U.S. citizens from participating in - either by phone or by mail - any foreign lottery. If you receive such an offer or solicitation, you’ve been targeted by scam artists. The best thing for you to do is ignore the solicitation and report it to state and federal authorities.

Spitzer noted that the perpetrators of this scam are relying on consumers mistaking these solicitations for the real national Spanish lottery, nicknamed El Gordo, which does not solicit outside of Spain.

Individuals should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report such solicitations at (877) FTC-HELP or www.ftc.gov. To report any type of telemarketing fraud, consumers can contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 771-7755 or www.ag.ny.gov.


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