How you can do your best to prevent from becoming a victim of what the FBI is very busy investigating, mass marketing fraud.
Lottery Scam/Mass Marketing Fraud - II06/11/2010
Mr. Schiff: Hello. I’m Neal Schiff, and welcome to Inside the FBI, a weekly podcast about news, cases, and operations. On our previous podcast, we talked with a retired college professor who is a victim of a major lottery scam. She has more to say, and we are going to hear how this happened and how you can do your best to prevent from becoming a victim of what the FBI is very busy investigating, mass marketing fraud. In talking with the victim of this lottery scam, she explained about a relationship with the fraudster and how he became her friend. We wondered how long this relationship lasted and when she reported all this to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3.
Fraud Victim: “It was about four years. All of the documents had been paid for, so there was no more money being sent. I went to the FBI office here with 16 notebooks of documents because I kept every e-mail, every receipt, every phone conversation. The agent there told me to file a complaint with the IC3, which I did in August 2008. So, it was four years.
Mr. Schiff: What are some personal consequences you have experienced by being a victim of lottery fraud?
Fraud Victim: “Well, three areas of your life obviously are affected. Financially, of course. We did not borrow from anybody except ourselves; however, all of our retirement income is gone. We are living on Social Security and purchasing only necessities. Any plans we have of vacation or traveling we cannot do and probably will never be able to do for the rest of our lives. So basically, it has devastated our way of life that we had planned to live out in our retirement years.
The secondary thing that is affected is physically. We are in our 70s. My husband’s health has deteriorated significantly, primarily from the stress due to the loss of financial security. My health is okay, it’s not great, but it’s okay for my age.
Then the mental and emotional aspect was like living on a roller coaster during those four years; ‘Yes, your money is going to come;’ ‘No it’s not;’ ‘You need to pay another document.’ My husband is severely depressed. He doesn’t have any interest in anything because his inability to have a little extra money for hobbies is gone. Basically, our entire way of life has been devastated. Fortunately, we did not borrow from anyone other than ourselves, so we don’t have to pay anyone back, which is fortunate.”
Mr. Schiff: Any words of advice to potential victims of lottery fraud?
Fraud Victim: “Yes, but before we do that, let me just say why I thought this was believable. Because an Australian student of mine had purchased an Australian lottery ticket when she went back home, in my name, as just kind of a fun thank you gift, about a year-and-a-half before I received this formal e-mail. And that really—if it had just been a general solicitation e-mail, without my name and all my information and without knowing that a lottery ticket had been purchased, I would never have entered into this long process. But that made it more believable to me that it was a real legitimate lottery.”
Mr. Schiff: Any words of caution that you might have in case anyone listening gets material in the mail, on the phone, e-mail, about winning a big lottery?
Fraud Victim: “Yes, I think now you see more of this on the Internet than you did back in 2005. I get solicitation e-mails all day long.
So, my advice would be: Immediately delete any e-mail that has not been solicited by you, especially those requesting money, telling you that you will get a large amount of money in return. Those are all fraudulent. If you happen to answer one, remember that it is a fraud. Do not believe anything anyone you don’t know tells you, because they are masters of deceit. They are evil. And finally, call the FBI; and if you have sent any money to anyone, file a complaint with the IC3.”
Mr. Schiff: The FBI is working 24/7 with many domestic and international law enforcement agencies to keep cyberspace as safe as possible. Don’t be a fraud victim. If e-mails come from a stranger, don’t open it. Delete it. Be sure you don’t give your personal information or financial data to anyone you don’t know. Keep changing and updating your computer and bank account passwords. Enjoy the Internet, but be safe. More about the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.fbi.gov and www.IC3.gov. That’s our show for this week. Thanks for listening. I’m Neal Schiff of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.