Ratan Kumar, a 41-year old Indian villager came to the BBC Delhi office last month to claim his prize in a “BBC lottery” worth millions of rupees, only to know that he was scammed.
Ratan said he got a text message two years ago saying that he won the BBC’s national lottery for 20 or 30 million rupees (£194,000-£292,000). Unemployed, Ratan fell for it, communicated with the scammers until November last year, and sent his personal details.
The perpetrator presented himself to Ratan as the chancellor of BBC. “He promised me a large sum of money but said I would have to first send 12,000 rupees ($191; £117) so that he can transfer the money into an RBI (Indian bank) account, ” Ratan told the BBC office.
The Indian villager even negotiated with the scammer to allow him to transfer a lower amount of 4,000 rupees as he was very poor.
Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal describes it as an “old Nigerian 419 scam”. The fraudster will ask the victim to pay them first as processing fee for the larger sum he would get.
Lottery scams have also been among the most frequent complaints in tellows. One reported number is 02070606110 (from user Melbourn kid):
I received a letter as well. In spite of having never participated in a lottery or any sort of sweepstakes, apparently, I have won £850,000 and was supposed to contact a Bernard Morgan at this number to claim my prize. It also said that I had to respond within the course of two weeks after the letter was issued (it was dated August 22 and I received the letter on September 23 – so what in god’s name are they trying to pull?). Obviously, I didn’t reply to the letter – it’s obviously a scam!
Here are some tips on how you can protect yourself against lottery fraud:
- Ignore such communication especially if you haven’t entered a lottery.
- Official lotteries like the UK’s National Lotto do not contact people to tell them of their win.
- No official lottery operators will ask for fees to collect winnings.
- Never provide your bank details or pay fees in advance.
- If they’ve provided an email address to respond to, be very suspicious of addresses such as @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com or numbers beginning with 07 because these are free to get hold of.