A Victorian (Australia) man has become the latest victim, losing $55,000 in bogus administration fees when he tried to claim a supposed $4.5 million fortune. The theft is one of the biggest lottery fraud losses reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
The man told the watchdog and police that he transferred the cash after responding to an email sent to his wife advising of the massive win. Sources said there was little hope of retrieving the money because lottery fraudsters were normally based overseas and avoided detection through reinventing themselves.
The man, who declined to be named and has not told all of his family about the theft, was ordered to keep details of the lottery win secret. The scammers later claimed they had transferred the $4.5 million but the International Monetary Fund had stopped the payment and a 3 per cent fee was required to access it.
Con artists siphon at least $3 million a year from Australians through phony lotteries and sweepstake offers that steal cash or bank details, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says.
CAV director Dr Claire Noone said people should be suspicious of any texts, emails or mail claiming that they've won or could win a fortune.
"The scammer will inform consumers they've won a large amount of money or a holiday and they need to send money to claim it," Dr Noone said.
"Scammers often say this money is needed to cover the costs of taxes or administration fees. Once you send the payment overseas though, the scammer pockets the fee and the prize never arrives."
CAV received 6770 reports about various scams last financial year, up 44 per cent on the previous year.
TIPS TO AVOID GETTING RIPPED OFF
- Never send money, credit card or bank details, or personal information to someone you don’t know.
- Beware of claims to provide you with instant income or winnings.
- Do not give out information over the phone unless you made the call or know the number.
- If you fall victim to a scam email, change your email address as soon as possible to avoid further contact.