Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars has issued a statement warning residents about an organization claiming to be the International Lotto Commission, which has sent fraudulent emails that claim upward of $5 million dollar winnings and ask only that a return payment of 5 percent be addressed to the claims agent.
An elderly Santa Maria couple recently received one such email, stating that they had won $5.5 million from “The Hispanic Lottery International Promotions Program.” The letter even featured a Madrid return address, where the requested claims fee of $227,500 was to be delivered.
In this case, the couple received the check and reported that a man had later called their home, aggressively pressuring them to cash the check or he would “call the police.” Instead of cashing it in, the couple brought it to the Sheriff’s office.
According to a news release, con artists of this nature will usually target the elderly, who “may become confused and fall victim to the scam.”
If you or someone you know has received a fraudulent letter, please contact the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department by calling (805) 681-4100.