Council Convener warns of Euro millions Lottery scam (17/03/11)

Highland Trading Standards Manager Gordon Rob and Convener of the Highland Council Sandy Park with the scam letter

Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Sandy Park is warning people in the Highlands not to be duped by unsolicited letters informing them that they are winners of the Euro millions Lottery.

Concerned, Councillor Park recently received a letter claiming to be from Michael Maxwell, Vice President of Euro millions Commonwealth of Nations Online Lottery’s Head Office in Pall Mall, London advising him that he had won £400,000. The letter advised him to contact the Foreign Service Manager of Travelex Finance Company urging him to divulge a range of personal and financial details in order to claim his prize.

Councillor Park immediately contacted the Council’s Trading Standards Office and passed the details on to them for investigation. He said: “I knew immediately that the letter was a con as I have never bought a Euro lottery ticket. However, as it appeared to be so convincingly written with so much detail I could see how other people might easily be tempted to reply to it, so I contacted Trading Standards.”

Highland Council Trading Standards Manager, Gordon Robb explained: “The letter that Convener Park received is a scam, and is unfortunately one of many that will have been received by people up and down the country on a daily basis.

“The letter that Councillor Park received is a very convincing fake. The London address of the sender does not exist and the telephone and fax numbers which give the impression of being London-based are not. We suspect that any calls to these phone and fax numbers would be redirected to an unknown location probably outside of the UK.

“Unbelievably over 2000 fake lottery scams alone have been identified internationally over the last 5 or 6 years. The Office of Fair Trading has stated that 73% of Adults in the UK have received scam e-mails or letters last year.”

He added: “This particular scam is known to the authorities and I have found reference to it as early as last December 2010. It is important however, that people are wary of unsolicited mail claiming to offer prizes or awards. Remember you can’t have won a lottery you never entered and we have no knowledge of any official lottery that either notifies winners or asks for any payment in order to collect a prize.

“If in doubt bin it and certainly never give your bank details or otherwise respond to suspect e-mails or letters. Enforcement and closing down active scams is extremely difficult but raising public awareness of them can help to keep consumers safe. We work closely with the Scottish Scambusters Team and any information on new scams is also shared with the Serious Fraud Office and the Office of Fair Trading, who are in a position to try and take action.”

Any suspected scams can be reported directly to the OFT www.oft.gov.uk or if you are a victim of lottery fraud report the fraud immediately to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040 www.actionfraud.org.uk.

Anyone with concerns can also contact Highland Council’s Trading Standards for advice on tel: 01463 228700, e-mail: trading.standards@highland.gov.uk  visit or write to Highland Council, Trading Standards, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF.

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