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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Lottery Scams


Like many Police Departments in New Jersey and across the nation, the North Plainfield Police Department has received multiple reports from borough residents of an international scam in recent months.  Typically a
resident receives a letter that appears to contain official documents.  The outside envelope may be marked “Official”; “Certified Prize Claim”; “Documented Winner’s Letter”, or some other official sounding name. 

Inside the envelope will be a letter that the recipient has been declared a winner in an international “Mega Lottery”. The letter will advise them they have been selected to receive a certain amount of money, from a lottery of names randomly selected from North America.  One recent victim was advised they had been selected to receive $125,000.00 in United States dollars.  Other letters have indicated smaller amounts and larger amounts have also been common. 

The letter will usually go on to say that attempts to contact the recipient have been unsuccessful and this is the final attempt.  The letter will then indicate that there is a “tax” due on the winnings, and there may a check enclosed for several thousand dollars.  In one recent incident the recipient received a check for $3980.00.  The “winner” was advised to deposit the check in their account and then using Western Union “wire transfer” that amount to an account in a foreign county, usually in England, or Canada, although other countries have been used as well.  The letter stated this was to assist with taxes due and complicated insurance regulations.  After sending out their own money through Western Union, the victim learned that the deposited check is to a non-existent account. 

These scams are extremely difficult for municipal police to investigate and prosecute because they are international. They not only transcend state and international boundaries making prosecution difficult but also hamper the ability to even develop a suspect because of thousands of miles in distance.
Reports of victims sending money overseas in hopes of collecting a “jackpot” are not uncommon.  Remember anything that sounds too good to be true probably is. Requests to send money across international borders so that you may collect money you won form a lottery contest should be a bright beacon warning you to stay away and just destroy the letter.