Last updated: January 16. 2014 7:17AM - 5399 Views
By - swillets@civitasmedia.com

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LUMBERTON — A Robeson County man recently won $700,000 from a foreign lottery — or so he thought, until depositing more than $15,500 into a Nigerian Bank of America account to pay for fees to deliver the prize.

According to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, the unidentified man isn’t the only local person to fall victim to that scam or similar ones that are perpetrated through the use of the Internet.

“Quite a few” local people have reported getting emails saying they won a lottery, according to Maj. Anthony Thompson, chief of detectives, who said the cases have grown in number lately.

The messages are being sent to users with all email providers. Some have come from the “UK-South Africa Lottery” and others from the “Deaf Awareness Lottery.” Some of the lottery organizations do exist, but do not contact winners over email.

The messages typically alert the recipient that his or her email was drawn in a recent lottery and to reply — sometimes with personal information like full name, address and occupation — to get further instructions for claiming the prize.

Some emails claim all checks are “certified cashier’s checks.” The next message generally asks the “lottery winner” to pay processing and handling fees for delivery of their money, which will supposedly be reimbursed.

“Once they get that first payment, they email again and say, ‘you need to send us more for taxes’ or whatever the case may be,” Thompson said.

Thompson said anyone who receives an email about winning the lottery should not respond. Those who already have should report it to authorities.

Sarah Willets may be reached at 910-272-6127.

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