Scratchies travel lot­tery scam

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

Lot­tery scam­mers have be­come more so­phis­ti­cated, ac­cord­ing to the would-be vic­tim of an un­suc­cess­ful fraud.

Kingston res­i­dent Justin Mur­phy was sur­prised and scep­ti­cal when he re­ceived a glossy brochure in the mail pur­port­ing to be from an es­tab­lished tour com­pany, but he went along with it for a time.

He said the Malaysian and Hong Kong- based per­pe­tra­tors used com­mon sales psy­chol­ogy to try to suck him in.

A mi­nor part of the pack­age was two scratchy lot­tery tick­ets, one of which told him he had won the sec­ond prize, $US175,000.

It was in­ter­est­ing be­cause the sum was not im­plau­si­bly mas­sive, like well-known La­gos scams, he said.

When he con­tacted the Malaysian travel com­pany, the phone was an­swered by a pro­fes­sion­al­sound­ing re­cep­tion­ist, who passed him on to the ‘‘ claims man­ager’’, who spoke good English.

He was told he had won, but his win might not be valid be­cause he was not a client.

They had dan­gled a car­rot, and then taken it away, Mur­phy said.

Then they said the lot­tery spon­sor would hon­our it any­way, if he first signed a non- dis­clo­sure agree­ment so real clients who had not won would not find out.

The spon­sor com­pany also looked plau­si­ble – a fi­nance house that ap­peared to back ho­tels, re­sorts and other travel businesses. It was fronted by a man who gave his name as Kenneth Pan.

‘It all started to sound semi­le­git,’’ Mur­phy said.

In the en­su­ing days phone calls and emails were ex­changed un­til they got to the real point: to sat­isfy Hong Kong lot­tery rules and the tax depart­ment, he was to de­posit 2.1 per cent of the win into a hold­ing ac­count in Hong Kong – $US3675.

He was not to use his own bank of choice, the Hong Kong Sav­ings Bank. In­stead he was to send the money via Western Union. ‘‘That was a red flag,’’ he said. Western Union is the choice agency of scam­mers, be­cause pay­ments can’t be re­versed.

Mur­phy re­fused to have any­thing more to do with them, but still re­ceives their in­creas­ingly des­per­ate emails and phone calls, and wants oth­ers to be fore­warned. Mur­phy is a sales­man. ‘‘The psy­chol­ogy was a wee bit slick.

‘‘One mo­ment you’ve got it, the next you haven’t.’’

Build­ing up a prospect’s hopes, dash­ing them and, af­ter a de­lay, rekin­dling them was a com­monly used ma­nip­u­la­tive ploy among sales people, he said.

A Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment spokes­woman said the Scamwatch team was no­ti­fied of this scratch-andwin type of travel scam about 18 months ago.

‘‘The com­pany name changes ev­ery week or so, but it’s al­ways the same method – two scratchies ar­rive, one of which wins a sec­ond prize of $175,000.’’

The min­istry ad­vised con­sumers to treat of­fers they re­ceived from over­seas com­pa­nies in the form of scratch-cards with free hol­i­days or cash prizes with ex­treme cau­tion.

They should not pay any money up­front for sup­posed taxes or fees and never pro­vide per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

Photo: JIM CHIPP

Scep­ti­cal: Justin Mur­phy wasn’t taken in by this Hong Kong scam, and he doesn’t want oth­ers to be.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.