Fraudulent Lotto Site Tries to Scams Hundreds

17 July 2003

On July 9, Massachusetts State Lottery officials in cooperation with the FBI shut down a fraudulent Web site that mimicked the official Massachusetts State Lottery site,

Members of the operation contacted more than 200 known individuals from all over the world by e-mail and text messaging, informing them they had won a cash prize. Victims were then asked to forward a cash amount as tax and to submit sensitive financial information before winnings could be received.

The operators of the site were located overseas, which according to Massachusetts lottery spokesperson Amy Morris, "makes the actual apprehension and conviction of these individuals nearly impossible, but since the Web-hosting company is in the United States we were able to get the site—with some pressure—taken offline."

Lottery officials first learned of the scam in May, but at the request of the FBI did not go public with the information because they were trying to track down the responsible individuals.

"We received well over 200 e-mails between May and early July from individuals all over the world, the majority of whom luckily did not give out their personal information and were simply trying to verify that indeed this was not the real Massachusetts Lottery Web site," Morris said. Unfortunately there were some individuals who were lampooned and did give out very sensitive information including bank account, social security and such."

The Web site was nearly identical to the official Massachusetts Lottery site and even included an image of the state treasurer. According to Morris, "All signs indicate that the site probably began running in May when we received our first tip-off because after that those tip-offs came in fast and furious from people all over the world—Australia, Chile, Wales, Canada… pretty amazing."

The Massachusetts State Lottery has recently been in contact with all other state lotteries to insure that no other Web site like this exists.

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

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