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AARP Foundation and the Postal Service Team Up to Combat Foreign Lottery Scams

Sweepstakes Prize Form

For Immediate Release: February 27, 2103

Contact:  Jason Erskine / 206-517-9345     

The Check IS NOT in the Mail!

AARP Foundation and the the Postal Service Team Up to Combat Foreign Lottery Scams


Washington State – The AARP Foundation, U.S. Postal Service, and the Postal Inspection Service are teaming up to combat foreign lottery fraud, one of the most pernicious scams targeting older Washingtonians today.

You might even recognize the hallmarks of the trickery: stacks of advertisements and countless emails inviting you to play this or that offshore lottery; callers from mysterious phone numbers claiming you "won the Jamaican lottery," but demanding you pay the foreign taxes in cash.

One of just dozens of foreign lottery frauds, the Jamaican Lottery Scam alone could be bilking older Americans out of as much as $1 billion a year, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  But the FTC notes that many lottery scams go unreported because the victims may be too ashamed to file a complaint.

According to AARP, while various lottery scams have been in existence for some time, the Jamaican Lottery Scam is notable for being far more aggressive and abusive.  “When victims of past lottery scams caught on and quit sending money, the con-artist would usually move on to the next target,” says Jean Mathisen, AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center Director.  “But with the Jamaican Lottery Scam, some scammers threaten their victims with violence and bodily harm if they refuse to continue paying.”

During this year's National Consumer Protection Week, March 3 through March 9, AARP's Fraud Fighter Call Center and the USPS will be targeting seniors with education and outreach efforts including direct mail and television PSAs.

Nationwide, the post office will deliver 25-million direct-mail pieces explaining how the lottery scams work (including more than 2 million mailers in Washington state). The odds are good that the most vulnerable seniors will notice the effort -- after all, the educational postcards were to designed to look like the fraudulent lottery mailers.  New public service announcements will also air across the nation in more than 85 media markets, and information will appear in more than 32,000 post offices. (SEE BELOW TO VIEW THE PSAs)

“The bottom line is this: Never arrange payment through bank transfer or prepaid debit card, or wire or send money to anyone, anywhere who says you've won a prize,” said Mathisen.  “Odds are, it's a scam.

If you have questions about scams or fraud, or feel you may have been victimized, AARP encourages you to call the AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center toll-free at 1-800-646-2283.

For more information about foreign lottery scams, go to For more information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from fraud, visit


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