Beware of prize notifications of foreign lotteries!
"You won! Request your money with this personal form or call us!"
More and more consumers receive letters with similar content. Several lotteries make them believe that they won a high amount of money.
The European Consumer Centre (ECC) warns against hasty payments and disclosure of personal data.
Expensive calls and debit from bank account
In order to get the alleged prize, the consumers are told to call an expensive phone number or to fill in a "money request form". With this strategy, the companies try to get bank data of consumers in order to debit money. So it's just the opposite of a prize. Dozens of consumers lost money in this way.
Backers from all over Europe and Africa
The initiators of the false prize notifications are allegedly from the Netherlands, Spain and other European countries.
Furthermore, it is likely that they have a connection to firms operating from Africa, known as the "Nigeria-Connection".
Major source of income
Experts see the Nigeria-Connection as the third or fith biggest source of income of Nigeria. The backers of this companies gain several Million dollars per year with their fraudulent strategies.
Thousands of letters in various variations are sent to consumers via mail. The content is fictitious and makes the consumer believe that he was selected to be the exclusive recipient of a huge money transfer. Telephone or fax numbers are labelled as "confidential" but lead to expensive value-added numbers.
We can only advise you to throw such letters to the trash respectively to delete such emails. Don't answer, because if you do you will only attract their attention.
In Austria, to annoy someone with unapproved fax or emails is forbidden. However, this protection is only theoretical if the sender is from abroad.
Netherlands Embassy warns
Even the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Vienna warns aganist fraudulent firms situated in the Netherlands which contact Austrian citizens. Buy calling the embassy (phone: 0043 (0)1/58939-0) you can get information about the reliability and professionality of Dutch companies.
In most cases, those responsible can be contacted via a "003106-" phone number only. If you receive a letter with such a number as a contact point, you should be careful.
Dutch police active again
Dutch authorities are interested in copies of correspondences with the companies. Affected consumers can send their documents to the following address:
Financial Crimes Unit
NL – 2700 KX Zoetermeer
Dubious offers from Spain
The Spanish lottery association Loterías y Apuestas de Estado also warns against criminal organisations (like El Gordo de la Primitiva) that misuse the name of the Spanish Loteria Nacional in order to send prize notifications to consumers all over Europe.
The consumers are told that they need to pay specific amounts of fees, bank costs and postal charges in order to get their "prize".
According to the Spanish Loteria Nacional the payment of their prizes is always free of any charges. The lottery therefore advises not to react to such letters.
Victims of such Spanish companies can turn to the Spanish authorities:
Loterías y Apuestas del Estado
Legal Advice Service
C/Guzmán el Bueno Nr. 137
oder via Fax: 0034 9 153 35 136
Be careful with your personal data
The European Consumer Centre (ECC) recommends to handle personal data, especially bank data, carefully.
The knowledge of your bank data may enable fraudsters to debit money from your bank account, even if you didn't agree to it in written form. Companies can file an application at banks to debit money from bank accounts of which they know the data. Banks usually don't check if the company actually has a written authorization to do so.
If you already gave away your data, carefully check your account statements. If money was debited unlawfully, you can inform the bank and they can try to get it back within 42 days.
We also want to point out that it is illegal to participate in foreign gambling while you are in Austria.