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Lottery Scam Variation - Bogus Cheque to Cover Expenses

Summary:
Email claims that the recipient will be sent a small portion of the money they have supposedly won in a lottery in the form of a cheque. The recipient is instructed to bank the cheque and then wire a specified amount to a "tax agent" ostensibly to cover taxation on the winnings (Full commentary below).



Status:
False - The cheque will be fake or stolen and the promised lottery winnings do not exist.

Example:(Submitted, March 2007)
Your information that i received was verified through my record and confirmed that you are the true winner of this lottery. You may be wondering how you enter into this lottery or how did you win since you did not buy any ticket, well as your claim and disbursement agent, my job is to explain to you and take you through necessary step to be able to claim your win fund and to make sure that fund is delivered to you as the rightfull winner of this claim number (JH/CA-0011).

You have been entered into our lottery system automatically through our sources random pickings. What i mean by this is that, this corporation collect names and addresses of participants through various sources like GROCERY STORES, GAS STATIONS, SALONS, ONLINE SWEEPSTAKE COMPANIES, CREDIT CARD PURCHASING POINT, CASH POINTS e.t.c.

Based on this random picking system, you are one of the lucky winners of our second category to share a sum of 9million US DOLLARS. According to the letter that you received, your share of the money is $250,000 (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS).

Therefore, i need to inform you that the Audit/Payment department will issue and mail to you a check of $4,975 (FOUR THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS) which will be deducted from your winning. You will be using some money on this first check to pay for the applicable Taxes on your winning.

When you receive this check, deposit it in your bank and withdraw a sum of $3895 (THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND NINETY FIVE DOLLARS) which you will send through MoneyGram - Money Transfer System to the tax verification agent (find below the details of the tax agent). Please note that a subcharge of about $150 will be required for the transfer.

You can find MoneyGram Money Transfer office at all Walmart Stores.

TAX PAYMENT AND VERIFICATION AGENT:

[Details Removed]

Once you send the tax fund through Moneygram, kindly contact me immediately through phone, fax or email to let me know and also you will forward to me through email, the 8 digit transfer code on the receipt of the MoneyGram transfer for verification purpose.

After the tax is paid and confirmed, the Audit/Payment department will send to you a second check for the remaining amount that you won which is $245.025 (TWO HUNDRED AND FOURTY FIVE THOUSAND AND TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS) it will be a special, registered and insured package which will be delivered to you personally at your door by FedEx agent. If you require other form of payment either by bank draft or bank transfer, kindly specify.

Therefore, whenever you received the first check, kindly let me know and when you send the tax payment through moneygram, kindly contact me also so that i can do the needful and your second check will follow immediately.

Please, do not hesitate to contact me if you need further clarifications or questions.

Many Regards,
David
[Details Removed]




Commentary:
The above example illustrates an increasingly common tactic used by scammers, that is, the tendering of a bogus cheque in conjunction with a typical lottery scam. The message is a follow-up to an initial "Winning Notification" email that was most probably randomly sent to many thousands of Internet users. Normally, such follow-up emails will only be sent to those who take the "bait" dangled in the first scam email by replying. It is via these follow-up messages that the scammer is able to draw his potential victim further into his trap.

According to the message, the "lucky" recipient has won $250,000 in a lottery that he never even entered. The scammer claims no entry was necessary because the winner was chosen by the random selection of his name and address from a list automatically compiled from a range of sources. This claim is, of course, total nonsense and no legitimate lottery would operate in this manner.

In a "normal" lottery scam, the victim will eventually be asked to pay fees such as taxes or administration expenses before the supposed "winnings" can be released. However, the scam sometimes breaks down at this point because the victim does not have enough money to pay the requested fees or because he or she belatedly becomes suspicious. Often, victims will request that the fees be deducted from their winnings. Of course, the winnings do not exist and tricking the victim into paying upfront fees is the primary goal of the scam, so the scammer will not agree to such requests. The scammer will general invent some excuse such as an insurance restriction to explain why the fees cannot be deducted from the prize money.

However, in the variation discussed here, the scammer can avoid this stumbling block by sending his victim a cheque that is supposedly drawn from the winnings and is enough to cover the requested upfront fees. The cheque may seem legitimate and may even be cleared by the victim's bank. Lulled by the apparent legitimacy of the cheque, the victim is likely to electronically transfer the requested amount as instructed and then sit back and happily wait for his winnings to arrive.

Alas, the cheque will turn out to be fake or stolen and the victim will never receive a cent of his apparent windfall. Instead, he has become an unwitting patsy to the scammers by effectively laundering their ill-gotten gains. Sooner or later, the police may trace the money trail back to the victim, who after all, was the person who actually banked the bogus cheque. Meanwhile, the criminal will already have collected his loot via the money transfer and absconded.

Such scams are similar in intent to payment transfer job scam emails, which are also aimed at turning innocent people into criminal money launderers.

References:
Payment Transfer Job Scam Emails - Laundering Scams

Last updated: 29th March 2007
First published: 29th March 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen