were among the top schemes reported to Better Business Bureau in 2010 and many Alaskans say these scams are still going strong in 2011.
Recent reports to BBB indicate that many Alaska-based consumers are receiving win notices from overseas lotteries. "Winners" are instructed to deposit fundstypically checks or money orders that appear to come from legitimate U.S. banks—then wire transfer a portion back to the company to cover fees or taxes.
While funds may initially clear, they are discovered as fraudulent after recipients have transferred or wired winnings as instructed. These "winners" are left responsible for the total amount lost. In fact, BBB reports that elderly Alaskans have been taken for more than $10,000 just in the past few days.
A North Pole-based consumer told BBB that her mother received a "Final Notice" to claim her $450,000 lottery winnings from a U.K.-based "Consumer Promotion Drawing." She took the appropriate action and contacted BBB, reported the mail to the Federal Trade Commission, and then destroyed the notice.
Upon receiving a win notice, consider the following:
- Did you enter the lottery? If not, it is probably not a legitimate draw. Lottery tickets must be purchased in advance and sweepstakes require applications.
- Where is the lottery located? It is illegal for U.S. citizens to participate in foreign lotteries.
- Was the win notification delivered via standard international mail? Legitimate lotteries typically deliver win notices through certified mail.
- Are there fees involved? In legitimate cases, applicable taxes are taken out before money is sent and any additional taxes are handled with federal tax returns. Never wire money or share financial data to secure winnings.
For resources on how to avoid lottery scams and check fraud, rely on the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service and BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington.