• United States

Spanish-bull fight

Oct 14, 20032 mins

* Why you always lose in this Spanish lottery

The e-mail message announced breathlessly that I had won a lottery in Spain called “El Gordo.”

“Esther Lodwig,” the “Promotions Director” of “Global Stakes Lottery International” wrote that a specific ticket number attached to my name had won me 2.5 million euros. The letter went on to explain that I should call a phone number in the Netherlands (odd, that, no?) to claim my prize.

Now it happens that I have never bought a lottery ticket in my life; I’ve contributed to charitable lotteries by contributing the price of the ticket but refusing to take it (just one of those weird habits of mine). All my friends know this about me, so it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to enter me into a lottery.

In addition, it’s illegal for a U.S. resident to participate in a foreign lottery. For more information, see U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1301:

So in the U.S., even if you did win a foreign lottery it would be illegal to collect on it – punishable by fines or imprisonment, or both.

A quick bit of investigation on Google reveals that this scam has been circulating for about a year. I’ve listed a number of good resources about it in the Related Links section below, but the essentials are as follows:

* Criminals (most of them outside Spain) are circulating bogus claims all over the world that (presumably many) potential victims have won lots of money in the Spanish El Gordo (sometimes misspelled “El Godo”) state lottery.

* If the victim calls the phone numbers listed in the e-mail or postal mail messages, they are invariably told that they have to supply a tiny fraction of their “winnings” as a tax (or for some other bogus fee).

* Anyone who actually falls for the ploy and sends money is asked for yet more, and then more and more, until they wise up; some victims have sent many thousands of dollars.

* Some poor souls have supplied the criminals with details of their bank accounts and other private information, allowing their names to be used in identity-theft schemes.

So OLÉ! Let’s fight this, ah, Spanish bull by posting a note in our corporate newsletters.