With the increase in computer usage, there has also been an increase in the number and types of scams perpetrated in an attempt to lure unsuspecting people to provide personal information, including name, dob, social security numbers, etc. Most of these scams promise large sums of money that you have "already won", offer a portion of a "settlement" or promise other means of obtaining a large sum of money. Most of these scam originate in other countries which makes prosecution of the offenders extremely difficult or impossible. These overseas e-mails are also known as the Australian Lottery, the Canadian Lottery, Jamaican Lottery, the Euro Lotto LTD and The IRS Phishing scheme. These schemes tell the victim they have won a prize or they want the victim to be business partners with them. They usually tell the victim that because of international laws, they are not allowed to wire the money directly to the United States and they have to send a money order or check to the individual victim. One method used in this scam is for the suspect to ask the victim to deposit the check or money order (provided by the suspect) to their on account, tell the victim to keep a portion of the money for their earnings or as their winning and then wire the rest of the money back to them overseas. A few days later, the victim discovers the check or money order that the suspect gave them was counterfeit and the bank withdrew the wired money out of the victim's account and the victim is out the money they sent overseas plus any money the spent before they were notified by the bank.
The Federal Trade Commission is aware of the problem as well as the FBI but these e-mails are getting through at an alarming rate. If you receive one of these e-mails you can report it to The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) which is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). Because of the alarming rate of these e-mails, the IC3 complaints are often forwarded to the local Police agencies for information only and because of the jurisdictional nature of the crime, local and federal authorities are powerless to investigate them overseas. Please destroy these e-mails and if you have any questions please contact a Detective in the Economic Crimes Section at the Torrance Police Department at (310) 618-6363.
Please do not provide any personal information to unsolicited people, whether in person, in the mail or via the Internet/e-mail. If you did not solicit the contact and if you do not know who the person is that is promising you "free" money, you can bet that the e-mail or other solicitation is fraudulent.
For additional information you can refer to one of the websites listed below.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - http://www.ic3.gov/
Fraud Aid Advisory Council - http://www.fraudaid.com/ScamSpam/Lottery/index.htm
The Federal Bureau of Investigation - http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/internetschemes.htm
How to Avoid Being Swindled