Monday, January 29, 2007

Lollipop, Lollipop - The Spanish Lottery

So, digging through the mail this weekend, we came across a letter from Euromillions Loteria Internacional. Though I didn't enter it, it appears that I have won the Spanish Sweepstakes, or at least a small portion of it, amounting to 469,812.79 Euros -- which is about $660,000 in U.S. dollars. Somehow, my name has become "attached" to the process ...

Hey, I didn't even have to buy a ticket! Lucky, lucky me!

Now, all I need to do to collect my money is to fill out a form for my claim agent, Fernando, shoot it to him, and then wait until he transfers the money into my bank account, the particulars of which will be in the fax I am to send him.

Well, I've never been to Spain, but I kinda like the crooks there ...

For his efforts on my behalf, Fernando gets five percent of my winnings, but only, of course, after the money is transferred to my account.

The letter is covered with all kinds of official-looking stamps, albeit they are obviously computer-printed, rather badly, and not stamps, and I am warned that, due to a mix-up of some names and numbers, I should keep my prize-tracking number to myself, as part of the security protocols ...

Sad thing about this is, that even in this day and age, there are people who can read and who probably watch the news now and then who will fall for this old nag, which is even older than the Nigerian Scam (aka the 419 con.) This is a variation on the old small con wherein somebody finds the winning ticket in the Irish Sweepstakes and offers to let you share the ticket for chump change because they are in need of ready cash and can't wait.

And there is always a chump with change.

And here's how the rest of the Spanish sweepstakes con goes: I fax them my information and then Fernando tells me the money is on the way, but that some sleazy official is sitting on the payment, and a little baksheesh will grease the wheels and get the money rolling in. Yes, yes, it's a bribe, but that's how things are done, you know, we're all men of the world, we understand that, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and if I could just transfer, say, most of what is in my account, which ole Fernando can check out, using the information I boneheadly provided him, then all will be well. I haven't checked it lately, but this used to be easy to do, and no, I'm not going to tell you how.

If I am stupid enough to send money, a week or so later, Fernando will call back and allow as how the corrupt official has been arrested, and a bit more money will be needed to bribe his replacement.

If I fall for that, this will go on as long as he can get away with it. The payoff will always be practically in my hands, save for this one little nothing in the way, and as soon as we take care of that, we're gold.

The best cons make you complicit in something that is either illegal or immoral or both, so that once you realize you've been fleeced, you are embarrassed to tell anybody, particularly the law. Here's what you'll worry about: You attempted to bribe a tax collector (sometimes it's a customs agent) and that is a crime. Call the cops, and you are admitting that.

There is a sucker born every minute. You get something like this in the post, or a email from an official in Nigeria who wants you to help him transfer a fortune out of the country for which you'll make a couple million, or somebody who has access to Lord Nelson's unclaimed fortune, pass it along to the FBI -- it's all kinds of illegal, and much of that federally illegal.

Don't be the sucker born in your minute.

For more information, go here: Gotcha, Sucker!

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