Meridian resident Robert Sumner knows there is no chance of winning an international lottery or sweepstakes. In fact, hes first to tell you its against the law in the United States.
But that doesnt stop them from sending me applications, he says.
Sumner dropped off a handful of requests from companies that promised to track his international lottery and sweepstake winnings for a nominal fee: $20. The promised return was $1.8 million to $10 million in declared disbursements. The registry, as the three letters declared, was located in Australia, China and Hong Kong. All had disclaimers that this was not an official notification of winning, but rather a research and sweepstakes entry tracking and placing corporation that researches available sweepstakes, contests and other potential prize opportunities, assesses eligibility and enters all eligible participants upon receipt of the requested processing fee from you.
The Better Business Bureau cautions residents in the Snake River Region not to allow enticing dollar signs to obstruct common sense.
If you are being directed to wire money, send a check, provide access to your bank account or credit card numbers or forward personal financial information to claim your winnings, contact your BBB. This is an attempt to steal your money or identity by a person masquerading as a lottery official.
If you have won a legitimate, legal lottery, you do not have to pay taxes, custom fees, shipping or handling or any other fee before receiving your winnings.
In addition, it is illegal to participate in a foreign lottery through U.S. mail.
The BBB offers these tips on avoiding international lottery scams:
The only lotteries that are legal in the United States are official state-run lotteries.
Foreign lotteries violate U.S. Postal Service statues, though they may not violate the statutes of the country where they originate.
Foreign lottery solicitations should be brought to the attention of the U.S. Postal Service.
The BBB has established that some foreign lotteries really start in Canada.
Many telemarketers claim to be from outside of North America, but consumers are directed to contact a Canadian phone number for instructions in how to claim a prize.
NEVER pay money to win a sweepstakes. Legitimate prizes do not come with processing fees. Taxes are paid directly to the Internal Revenue Service after winnings are collected.
Robb Hicken, 947-2115