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October 28, 2003
Western Washington residents beware of lottery scam

SEATTLE - The Attorney General's Office today warned residents of the Seattle area and Southwest Washington to be wary of lottery scam artists who are using unfair and high-pressure sales tactics on vulnerable elderly citizens.

According to several complaints filed in the Seattle area, senior citizens are contacted by phone. They are told they have won a large amount of money in an international sweepstakes or lottery. The catch is they are also told to send $2,500 to Western Union to pay for international taxes and insurance, then once they send the money, someone will deliver their "winnings" right to their front door.

"It's a common scam that unfortunately has hurt a lot of our senior citizens," says Attorney General Christine Gregoire, adding, "If you give them your money that's the last you'll see of it." Gregoire's advice, "Beware and report these crimes."

State investigators say most of these scams originate in Canada. If you or someone you know has been bilked by this scheme or a similar one, you are urged to contact Project Colt, an investigative unit which specializes in busting telephone scammers. Project Colt can be reached at (514) 939-8304.

Consumers who want to complain about telephone scams or have other consumer issues should contact the AG's Consumer Resource Center at 1-800-551-4636.

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