£1,000 Lost In Lottery Scam

PUBLISHED: 12:11 11 May 2006 | UPDATED: 13:27 04 May 2010

A THRILLED Ely couple dreamed of moving into a luxury new home after they won more than £400,000 on a European lottery. The pair, both semi-retired, starting house-hunting in the city to find the perfect bungalow following their win . But after partin

A THRILLED Ely couple dreamed of moving into a luxury new home after they 'won' more than £400,000 on a European lottery.

The pair, both semi-retired, starting house-hunting in the city to find the perfect bungalow following their 'win'.

But after parting with more than £1,000 to release their winnings and facing demands for a further £8,000, they discovered they had been the victims of a highly-professional scam.

There was no lottery cash and telephone numbers for the Spanish Lottery Board and a Madrid bank were, in fact, the mobile phones of the conmen.

One of the victims, a 67-year-old man, who has asked the Ely Standard not to name him, said: "We tried not to get too excited about our win but we started dreaming about how we were going to spend the money.

"We wanted to move and went to look at a bungalow in Ely. My wife was getting excited about it."

The intricate and highly-organised scam began five months ago when the couple spent £10 on five Spanish Lottery tickets from an agent advertising in a Sunday newspaper. They never received lottery tickets - only a faxed copy of what were supposed to be their tickets.

Months later a letter dropped on their doormat giving them the fantastic news that they had won 615,000 Euros (£427,000) in the lottery draw.

The letter asked them to ring a number, purporting to be for the Spanish Lottery Board, to confirm their winnings.

The couple were told that because they were not Spanish nationals and the prize was more than 100,000 Euros they must pay £1,280 to release their winnings.

They were advised to transfer the money through to a secretary at St Lucia Securities in Madrid.

The couple were worried about handing over their bank details so they paid the amount by cash through the Post Office.

They were told once they had faxed the receipt through to the Spanish Lottery Board their winnings would be released.

Several phone calls followed until they were advised that there was a further hold-up with the cash.

It appeared there was outstanding tax to settle on the account and the couple would need to pay a further £8,240 before they could get their winnings.

"I said: 'I can't find that sort of money'," said the man. "I was told they would give me a few days to raise it or an amount I could pay.

"When I told them I couldn't raise any more money they told me I could sign a note promising to pay the money out of my winnings. It all sounded very convincing but I had already handed over money and so I contacted my son."

The man's son, who works for a bank, ran some checks on his computer and broke the news to his father that he had been the victim of an elaborate scam.

"Fortunately I didn't give them my bank details," the man added, "otherwise they could have cleared out my account. I was one of the lucky ones. I lost money but not as much as some people. I have hurt pride more than anything else."

The man alerted Cambridgeshire police giving them details of the conmen's mobile phone

numbers.

Maurice Smith, intelligence officer in the economic commercial unit, said: "This chap got sucked in by professional criminals who target older

people.

"At the beginning of this year the Spanish Government had a crack-down on these scams, but no sooner do they close one down than another one opens. People must realise you don't get something for nothing."

INFO: Anyone who has information or has been a victim of these types of scams can contact Cambridgeshire police on 0845 4564 564.

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