Lottery scam, by real mail

A refreshing change (well, a change anyway) in all those scam attempts (Nigerian 419 types, or otherwise) everyone keeps receiving in email.

My brother received one in the mail. Regular mail. In an elegant envelope, printed on elegant stationary, and everything.

I know that these things also happen, and probably happened for a long time before email became so ubiquitous, but it’s certainly much rarer, and nothing I personally encountered before.

This one was a variation on the lottery scams.

The paper, addressing him by name, claimed to be from the Spanish elGordo lottery. And informed him that he won something like a million Euro.

Of course, not having ever purchased a lottery ticket in Spain, that’s not very likely. But they did have an explanation, this was a lottery done by randomly picking people from around the world as winners. Very convincing, no, to just randomly pick people and give them money, no need to apply?

They also mention that the money is transferred by a third-party, some security/insurance company, and that they’ll need to take 10% of the winning money as a commission for processing it. Another very convincing claim.

And there’s an attached form asking for all sorts of personal questions. Plenty of personal information, quite possibly enough for someone to even get into his bank account, for example, or for other identity-theft related reasons.

And most typical, though what I still find most peculiar about all of those scam attempts, the English was terrible. They did improve on the average by not having many spelling errors. That’s something that’s very rare for the emails. But the syntax and grammar, ouch. It hurt just reading the thing.

I admit, it’s quite possible that some random Spaniard off the street will use that as English, and expect it to be fine. I personally correspond with company clients from abroad who have worse English. But not when what’s written is supposed to be an official letter, sent by a respectable authority, and involving those amounts of money. And lottery foundation that can afford sending millions of Euros as prizes can certainly employ someone with reasonable English skills.

But those scammers apparently never can. Not once. Ever.

Sometimes I think these guys will have much higher success rate if people would only ignore those flimsy scam attempts because they make no sense, and not also because they have terrible grammar. With that language one can hardly even begin to try and take what’s actually written seriously.

And unlike the emails version, sending those real letters cost money. There’s postage, there’s the envelope cost, there’s printing the stationary on quality paper, stamping the paper and envelope with all sorts of official looking stamps. All sorts of stuff. So if they’re sending a large bunch of those, at least paying someone to go over the language would make sense.

Oh, well, can’t complain.

What I did find, however, is that throwing up these absurd amounts of money is actually helpful. It should have been obvious from the get-go that this is a fake. It was obvious from the get-go that this was a fake. But my brother, and my parents, still tried to check, and asked me several times to check, just in case maybe it is true.

They got annoyed when I told them, what they knew, that there isn’t a point in wasting time checking. They insisted. And when I actually checked, and reported back about the numerous reported cases of these scams, and obviously nothing real of the sort, they still kept insisting to maybe check again.

Almost sad to know that I share the same genes…

They got over it eventually. I just became more rude in pointing out all the obvious problems very clearly. But hey, send something that make no sense with a bait of a thousand Euro, and you’ll get instant scepticism. Do it with a million, and you’ll get a higher scepticism, but combined with a higher willingness to ignore it.

Depressing, actually. Even people who are relatively well off, and don’t need it, still get a little silly when the possibility of plenty of easy money comes off…

The supportive argument my brother came up with that most amused me was that they knew his name and address, and how could a scammer know these? Even before addressing the question, this is obviously a pathetic excuse, since by the same measure how would the real Spanish lottery know them, when he didn’t buy a ticket (or ever even been to Spain) ?

Just because something is an official institute doesn’t make it easier for them to know details that “nobody can know” compared to anyone else.

And, naturally, things like names and address are in lots of places. Easy, too easy, to know. It’s a major privacy issue, but also a part of life. Everyone (hermits and total paranoids excluded… sometimes) leaves their information in too many places. Almost any business or service someone interacts with will collect information, which can sometime include address. Plenty of government offices will as well. There are probably so many different registries that contain my brother’s name and address that guessing which one these scammers took the info from will not be possible.

Not for him/us, anyway. The police may be able to. If they get enough complaints, and can cross enough of the people somehow. But that’s doubtful as well, given how prevalent this information is.

At least nothing came off it, except for the amusement value. And the envelope and paper as small mementoes, if the police won’t impound them for investigation…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.