Lottery winners’ ‘foundation’ is bogus

via Moak:Lottery winners’ ‘foundation’ is bogus, clarionledger.com, 3/18/2016

Last Fourth of July, a couple from St. Louis, Missouri,hit it big in the Powerball lottery, winning a $70 million prize. Tom and Kathy Rea, who had both worked for the city of St. Louis for years, had been playing the same combination of family birthdays routinely, when they finally hit it big.

The Reas came forward to claim their prize, and elected to take a lump sum payment of about $43 million. For a couple of public servants, the prize promises to change their lives. Apparently, though, it has also attracted the attention of scammers who hope to cash in on the Reas’ good fortune by suckering people into thinking they’ve won a grant from an organization called the Tom and Cathy Rea Foundation. The only hitch: there is no such organization. “…the Tom and Cathy Rea Foundation is not registered as a charitable organization in Missouri or Mississippi,” Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood notes.

Hood’s office issued a warning Friday about the scam, which comes in the form of an email or LinkedIn post, similar in form to the ancient-but-stubbornly-persistent Nigerian Letter Scam. The letter is allegedly written by Tom Rea himself. “This mail is to officially inform you about the authenticity/legitimacy of this award and also bring to your notice once again that it was your Profile through the Linkedin (sic) Social Network that emerged you a lucky beneficiary of Seven Hundred And Fifty Thousand Great Britain Pound Sterlings {750,000.00 GBP} in the on going (sic) Tom And Cathy Rea Foundation World Wide Grants,” proclaims one letter, published on the Scamdex.comwebsite.

Where do we even start? There are several red flags in the letter itself:

  1. The rambling language of the letter is a dead giveaway. Rest assured, if you really won something, the attorneys who would be sending it would know how to get to the point.
  2. The letter goes on to state that the whole deal will evaporate if the recipient lets anyone know about it, even going so far as to allege there have been a number of attempted fraudulent claims against the foundation, yet you somehow can avoid all that if you just cooperate and not tell anyone.
  3. Several errors appear in the document, such as using the term “Pound Sterlings,” when (as every grammarian knows) the proper term is “Pounds Sterling.”  Also, “bible” is used, instead of “Bible.” The scammers have finally discovered Spellcheck, but it doesn’t catch stuff like this.
  4. The pitch is tied to something that really happened (in this case, the Reas’ Powerball win), giving it an air of legitimacy.
  5. Finally, all such scams have some kind of “hook,” in an attempt to reassure you this isn’t a scam. Often, they rely on religion. In this case, the letter writer has elected to say things like, “I believe that good things happen to those who wait upon the lord (lower-case “l”). Using such language targets Christians, for whom that statement is an article of faith. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s just their way of trying to get you to let down your defenses.

Such nonsense would be funny except for the fact there are always a few who succumb to the temptation of a windfall, and send money to these crooks. In this case, it’s highly unlikely you and I will ever see any part of the Reas’ winnings. Just remember the old adage (say it with me…) “If it seems too good to be true…it probably is.”

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