Educational Consumer Tips

Foreign Lotteries

Author: Better Business Bureau

Purchasing foreign lotteries is illegal. United States Federal Law prohibits mailing payments to purchase any ticket, share, or chance in a foreign lottery. Most foreign lottery solicitations sent to addresses in the United States do not come from foreign government agencies or licensees. Instead they come from companies that seek fees from those wishing to play. The activities of these companies are neither controlled nor monitored by the government of the country in which they are located.

Typically, those who pay the required fees never see any lottery tickets or any other evidence that lottery tickets were purchased on their behalf. In some cases, the soliciting company uses high pressure telemarketing techniques to obtain credit card or bank account numbers. Once they have the numbers, repeated unauthorized transactions may be made to the accounts.

In another scenario, the winner will receive a counterfeit cashier's check for the first lottery "winnings." Before the bank has determined that the check is bogus, the victim has already wired money to enter the second lottery. The victim loses out on both ends of the deal.

As a general proposition, sending lottery material through the mail is prohibited by federal law. This material includes letters or circulars concerning a lottery, tickets or any paper claiming to represent tickets in a lottery, and payments to purchase such tickets.

Inquiries and complaints regarding foreign lotteries should be directed to the following address: Memphis ISOSG, US Postal Inspection Service, 225 N. Humphreys Blvd, Memphis Tennessee 38161-0001 Attn: Foreign Fraud Desk. Consumers may also call toll free 1-800-FRAUDIS (1-800-372-8347)

The BBB offers free General Advice Reports on Prize Promotions, and Vacation Certificates. Ask your BBB information counselor to send you a copy. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!