State urges citizens to fight fraudOfficials participating in a statewide lottery and sweepstakes fraud enforcement partnership led by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) presented a new educational outreach campaign to enhance ongoing enforcement activities.
Officials participating in a statewide lottery and sweepstakes fraud enforcement partnership led by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) presented a new educational outreach campaign to enhance ongoing enforcement activities.
The MnScams campaign includes a Web site, posters, a brochure, table tents and other materials with the theme, “No More Minnesota Nice.”
MnScams emphasizes the importance for Minnesotans to recognize frauds and take action to cut off communication with scammers. AGED will make the materials available to a network of partners supporting the anti-fraud initiative, including banks, credit unions and law enforcement agencies.
Fraudulent lottery and sweepstakes scams account for at least $30 million in losses each year in Minnesota. Criminals use e-mail, phone calls and mailings to gain potential victims’ trust and steal their money. Such scams notify victims they have won money in a contest but that they must submit payment to receive winnings. Many of these scams target the elderly.
“Authorities will do as much as we can to help recover lost funds from fraud cases, but citizens truly must be the primary enforcer in fraud cases,” said John Willems, director of AGED. “This effort will educate citizens and give them the tools they need to recognize fraud from the start.”
Willems says education is the key to fraud recognition and enforcement. He stresses that people must learn to recognize basic scam tactics such as:
--Someone wants to send you a check for something and asks you to send part of it back to them.
--You receive a check via overnight delivery service.
--You have been informed that you were the winner of a foreign lottery – a lottery that you did not enter.
--You have been instructed to either “wire,” “send” or “ship” money as soon as possible to a large U.S. city or to another country.
--You have been asked to pay money to receive a deposit from another country such as Canada, England or Nigeria.
--You are receiving pay or commission for facilitating money transfers through your bank account.
--You receive an e-mail requesting that you confirm, update or provide your bank account information.
Potential fraud victims should report scams to AGED by calling toll-free 1-866-347-0911, submit information on www.MnScams.org and forward e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The enforcement program was launched late in 2007 and is the first of its kind in the U.S. Authorities receive information from citizens about scam activity through forwarded e-mails, mail and by telephone. Agents then work with partners to shut down the criminal’s communication and recover money whenever possible. Since September 2007, the state has received more than 30,000 fraud complaints