Police would like to advise the public to be wary of “Lottery Scams”. The scams involve a variety of schemes, all designed to dupe victims into parting with their money.

Recently, Police have received a number of reports by victims who were duped into parting with their money after they received overseas calls or Short Message Service (SMSes) to their handphones informing them of their winning cash prizes in lucky draws conducted by overseas companies. From January to July 2007, Police have received 23 such reports, of which 31 victims have parted with amounts ranging from $32 to $52,800.

The fraudsters would typically call the victims on the pretext of conducting surveys or inviting the victims to attend overseas events, by claiming to be staff of overseas companies. A few days later, another purported staff would call the victims informing them that they had won cash prizes in lucky draws entered on their behalf. To claim their prizes, the victims were requested to make up-front payments as administrative or processing fees via remittance companies to China. In some instances, local accounts were also used. To lend credence to their claims, the fraudsters may provide the victims with login PINs and website addresses, or phone numbers purportedly belonging to overseas audit or law firms.

Another tactic used by the fraudsters is to send winning notifications to victims’ handphones via SMS. In the messages, the victims are told to call an overseas number to claim their prize. Similarly, the victims would also be requested to make up-front payments.

These lottery winnings do not exist. They bear the hallmarks of what are commonly known as ' Lottery Scams' that are designed to dupe victims into parting with their money. Having deceived the victims into believing that they had won the lottery, the fraudsters often convinced the victims into making up-front payments, purportedly as tax or other forms of payments to administer the release of the 'prize money'. After pocketing their money, the fraudsters would either conjure up more tales to solicit further payments from their victims, or may abscond altogether.

The public is advised to be wary as such scams often take different forms and the fraudsters change tactics regularly. Remember, legitimate lottery companies do not ask for up-front payments before the release of the winnings. If anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Police take a stern view of such cases and will not hesitate to prosecute anyone if there is evidence of fraud. Police have been working with overseas agencies to pursue the culprits. Since 2005, we have successfully arrested and prosecuted at least 6 persons for their involvement in a variety of such get-rich-quick scams. Those charged have been given jail terms ranging between 14 months to 36 months. The public can provide information on such scams to the Commercial Affairs Department at 1800-3250000 or 391 New Bridge Road, #06-701 Police Cantonment Complex Block D, Singapore 088762 or at any police station.