Spanish scammers target local people

AN ARBROATH man wants pensioners and other vulnerable people to be wary of any letters claiming they have won a fortune.

James (who did not wish his surname to be published), a retired man who is also full-time carer for his son, brought to our attention the latest round of the so-called ‘El Gordo’ scam after receiving hundreds of letters in the past year.

James said: “Last year I got hundreds of these letters, saying that I’d won money in this Spanish lottery.

“There’s been a gap of about six months since the last one, but I got one on Friday, and another one today (Tuesday), and I just want people to be aware of this.”

In the first letter, James was told he had won 915,950 EUR and included a bond written in badly translated English as security for his prize.

The second letter was a great deal more sinister, and while it guaranteed James 985,950 EUR, it also included a form asking him for his bank account details, and the personal details of himself and his next of kin.

In an attempt to look genuine, the second letter also stated, in poor English: “In respect of our commitment towards helping the less privilege, we plead that you voluntarily contribute part of your winnings to any charity organisation around you at your convenience.”

Both letters also asked the winner to keep news of their winnings secret, to avoid double claims and fraud, and sported the logos of the Euromillions, the Lotto, and a slightly altered coat of arms for the Spanish Ministry of Finance.

According to the letters, “security” firms buy thousands of tickets on behalf of people across the globe, and then, when they miraculously win, a letter is sent out.

However, ‘El Gordo’ is a bona fide lottery draw, and the average Spaniard spends around 60 EUR every year on tickets.

Trading Standards warn that the worst possible thing to do is to reply, even if no information or money is sent, as this places them on a list that could see them receive hundreds of similar letters.

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Our trading standards officers have received a number of complaints from members of the public about lotteries, especially relating to letters they have received about the Spanish El Gordo lottery.

“Whilst the El Gordo lottery is legitimate, the letters will not be connected to this lottery and will be a scam.

“Anyone sending money in response to such letters will not be entered into the lottery, and passing on personal details could lead to identity theft.

“Our general advice is never to give out bank or credit card details to unknown companies asking for these or other personal details.

“Anyone who wishes advice about such approaches should contact trading standards through the council’s ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778.”