Elderly people in Hyndburn are being warned about a lottery scam letter claiming to offer ‘lucky’ winners £900,000.
Warnings have been issued by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards service and Action Fraud after residents in the borough started receiving the letters earlier this week.
Eric Coley, 75, of Ascot Way, Accrington, was one of the recipients from an organisation purporting to be the International Fifa World Cup Online Lottery based in Australia.
The letter said they were ‘delighted’ to tell Mr Coley he was an ‘approved winner’ after his name and numbers were involved in a ‘mix up’ and he drew the winning ticket.
It claimed he was entitled to a tax-free lump sum and had been selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over three million people worldwide.
It also claims the lottery is designed and promoted by the European Lottery, Loteria, El Gordo and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to promote the Brazil and Russian World Cups.
When the Observer called the contact number on the letter and asked about the scam, the man who answered said ‘Don’t call this number again’ and hung up.
Mr Coley told the Observer: “As soon as I got the letter I showed it to my son. I knew it was dodgy as you can’t win a lottery if you haven’t entered.
“Goodness knows what would happen if you ring the number and were to hand over your bank details. There could be hundreds or thousands of people in the area that could’ve received this letter.
“It only takes one person to fall for it and once they have your bank details that’s it.
“Some pool old dear might receive it and fall for it which is the last thing I want. I have warned most of my neighbours.”
Dawn Robinson, of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards service, said the letter is ‘one example of many lottery scams in circulation’ and that the ‘scammers’ use psychological tactics including personalised mail with links to genuine organisation to gain the victims trust.
She said the average age for scam victims is around 75 with 6.6 million older people targeted by letters and calls every month.
Call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 for a referral to Trading Standards, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Action Fraud on 0300 1232040.