Harpenden couple targeted by fraudsters for bogus lottery scam
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 May 2016
An elderly couple who left South Africa for a better life in Harpenden have spoken out after they were targeted by fraudsters.
The scam began when the 69-year-old woman received a letter in the post at the home she shares with her partner.
Her partner, 74, who said they did not want to be named, told the Herts Advertiser: “The letter arrived and my partner said she had won £725,000 from the Euromillions FIFA World Cup Super Lottery.”
The couple – who are both grandparents and have been together 25 years - said the letter, from ‘Fifa House’ in Zurich, Switzerland, looked authentic and had details of who to contact regarding the win.
The elderly victim said: “You know, when you are pensioners and you get letters telling you you’ve won something like this, and it looks professional and genuine, you think it’s wonderful, you think you can travel and do things differently.
“I phoned the chap and he said we could do a bank transfer but we would have to pay £2,000 in fees, so my partner opted for a cheque instead,” said the victim.
The photocopy of the cheque arrived in the post the next day, with a letter from the ‘United Nations Organisations’ International Clearance on Fund Monitoring Unit’.
The letter informed them that the funds were transferred without proper consultation, and that because the amount was over £500,000, it must be cleared prior to transfer - so a clearance charge of one per cent of the total (£7250) was required. By then the couple had realised it was a scam.
The victim said: “It is a let down because we’re reasonable people. We’re lucky because we realised it was a scam before we sent any money.”
“We got out of South Africa because of the crimes there and then we are targeted like this in Harpenden.”
The couple contacted Action Fraud, the UK’s national centre for fraud and cyber crime, which confirmed it was a scam.
Their website stated: ‘The Euromillions Fifa World Cup Online Lottery does not exist’ and that ‘some victims have lost thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds’ to the scam’.
People are asked to be vigilant and report any suspected frauds by clicking here.