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Voice of the Consumer: A Scottish gesture that is too good to be true

By: betty sexton KKTV 11 News
September 5, 2016 Updated: September 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm
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Every once in a while I hear about an outlandish scam, but this one from across the pond takes the royal cake. You just have to chuckle. It's based on the true story of a Scottish couple who actually won the Lotto jackpot in Britain back in January. Carol and David Martin won 33 million pounds, close to $44 million. News of the overnight multi-millionaires was splashed everywhere in Great Britain. Photos show the happy couple, embracing, popping a bottle of champagne, and explaining how the handyman and his wife will now retire.

That's where you enter the picture. You get an email out of the blue, supposedly from the gleeful Martins saying they now want to share their wealth with you. The email was sent to Janette in Colorado Springs, who knew better. Janette was told she was going to receive $900,000. The notice, supposedly from David Martin reads, "We know this might come as a surprise to you. My wife and I decided to set up a foundation aimed at providing financial aids and assistance to reputable individuals around the world."

The email asks for your name, age, and where you live. Don't believe one word of it. The Martins are not randomly donating money to complete strangers. According to Online Threat Alerts, once you provide those little pieces of information, you'll be asked for much more . like paying fees to cover banking and transfer costs, insurance, and taxes. The May 11 posting shows people from all over the globe have complained about the email, like folks in Pakistan, Denmark, and India.

One man commented to Online Threat Alerts saying he fell for the scam and lost $450. He reportedly wired cash to cover the courier fees. He says once he sent the $450, he was asked for even more money. This time it was $1,200 to process an anti-terrorist form. He apparently was told all international checks required an anti-terrorist and drug certificate. You can see just how clever the scammers are. If he had forwarded $1,200 he may have been asked to pay for another made-up fee.

The most important thing to know about lotteries is that legitimate contests will never ask you to pay anything as a condition of collecting your winnings. It doesn't make sense that lottery winners like the Martins would want those they're sharing their money with to have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees and taxes. Crooks will do anything to get you to loosen your purse strings. You just have to be smart enough to smell a rat.

Fraudsters are adept at taking some parts of the truth and spinning them to hide their lies. Also, if you're ever told you've won an overseas lottery, don't believe that either. The only way you can participate in a foreign lottery is if you play while you are there in that particular country. It's illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or over the phone while you're here in the United States. If you have any questions, just call our 11 Call for Action team at 719-457-8211.

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Contact Betty Sexton at bsexton@kktv.com or 578-0000.

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