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UK police bust lottery scam centre in Somerset

Scammers told: 'Get orf moi laaand!'

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Police have busted a bogus lottery winner scam, following a raid on a cheque processing and clearing house in Somerset.

The letter-based scam attempted to dupe prospective marks into thinking they had won a non-existent prize. Recipients were asked to send in £20 as an "administrative fee" to get their hands on their supposed winnings. In reality, cheques were cashed and money processed before being sent to fraudsters based overseas.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) led an investigation into the scam, culminating in a raid on an address in Somerset, where cheques and payments adding up to nearly half a million pounds were recovered. These cheques will be returned to 22,000 senders, with a note telling people that the supposed prize was a scam and urging people to be more careful in future, the BBC reports. Police reckon the scam might have netted as much as £35m had it been allowed to continue.

Scam emails often claim that recipients have won prizes in lotteries run by overseas lottery organisations, or even Microsoft, in the case of one common variant. In reality, these fraudulent messages are the opening gambit in an advanced fee fraud. The scam is a less ambitious sibling to classic 419 scams, which begin with suggestions that the gullible have come into a huge inheritance or that their help is needed to transfer supposed funds often running into millions of dollars. ®

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