South Africans' luck runs out with lottery scams

National Lottery operator Gidani on Thursday warned of international lottery scams claiming that people are winning hundreds of thousands of euros and dollars.

Gidani spokesperson Thembi Tulwana said the 419-type scams have been brought to the lottery operator’s attention by members of the public who almost fell victim to the scam.

“We implore you to totally ignore any mail that claims you have won money in a lottery when in fact you never purchased a ticket for that particular Lotto draw,” she said.

She said one scam is being run under the guise of the EuroMilliones brand—an officially licensed organisation that operates lotteries in Spain, Portugal and some European countries.

“The confident tricksters have gone to the extent of affiliating themselves illegally to legitimate international lotteries, hoping that it will give them more credibility,” said Tulwana.

She said the scam operator randomly distributes award-winning notification certificates to would-be victims, informing them that their money will be paid out in a lump sum of euros. The victims are asked not to tell anyone about the award before the money appears in their accounts.

This payout is said to be subject to a 10% commission, which will be paid to Santa Lucia Seguros—a claims agent company purporting to be handling the administration of the fund.
To that end, would-be victims are also forwarded a release order form from the claims agent company, on which they have to provide their personal and bank details.

In the second scam, would-be victims are told that they are “Category A” winners—jackpot winners—and entitled to prize money to the value of $750 000 from a total of $1,5-million shared among two winners.

Tulwana said victims are asked to meet the organisation’s representative at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for a prize-giving ceremony and presentation of their winnings. The travel arrangements are done at the victims’ own cost.

Should they not be able to come to the airport, then an alternative representative by an “accredited attorney” will collect the money on their behalf. The victims are also asked to forward their banking details so that the money can be deposited into their account or couriered to the given address.

“These criminals target people outside Johannesburg so that when the victim is asked to fly through to OR Tambo they instead opt for the money to be deposited into their bank account, and the only way they can do that is by giving the scam operators their banking details,” said Tulwana.

She said Gidani is the only licensed lottery operator in South Africa and that no other company can run lottery promotions without permission from the minister of trade and industry and the National Lotteries Board.—Sapa

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