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Scam letter: the ‘International Postcode Lottery’

A scam ‘International Postcode Online Lottery’ letter is turning up in people’s post. We’ve obtained a copy so you know what to watch out for.

Thanks to regular reports from a number of Which? Conversation readers, we know that the ‘International Postcode Online Lottery’ scam letter isn’t going away.

It appears to have been given a refresh as fraudsters attempt to catch more people out. Previous versions of this letter mentioned the 2018 football World Cup, which has now been updated to Qatar 2022.

We were grateful to receive the below copy from a reader who wanted to help warn as many people as possible. Here’s what you need to watch out for in your post:

Postal scams like this are sent with the sole intention of obtaining money through deception or fraud.

Guide: how to avoid postal scams

If you’ve received this one, please do join us here in spreading the word to warn others, and report it to Action Fraud.

Have you been sent a similar letter referencing letters and/or high-profile sporting events? If so, we’d like to see it. Please get in touch in the comments below.

Original Convo 15/12/2017

A member told us:

‘I received an elaborate letter purporting to be from an international postcode lottery, claiming I had won £900,000. The letter was correctly addressed to me and contained logos for the 2018 Fifa World Cup and Tokyo 2020 Olympics – two events it claimed to promote.

It asked me to collect my winnings by phoning a UK number and cited a prestigious London address. I have no knowledge of this lottery and have never entered it.’

Our say on fake postcode lottery letters

Similar ‘Fifa lottery’ letters have recently been the subject of warnings by Action Fraud and Trading Standards. The likely aim is to dupe you into giving away your bank details, or to get you to make a cash payment in order to ‘release’ fictional winnings.

In our member’s case, the details given in the letter didn’t stack up. The London address listed is currently a building site, and the developers of this site told us that they have no knowledge of an international lottery operating from it.

The firm that the letter comes from isn’t even registered on Companies House, but bears the same name as a legitimate bank in Australia.

When we called the claim line on the letter and said that we worked for Which?, the call handler said we had the ‘wrong number’ and subsequently became aggressive.

It’s best to ignore letters such as this altogether, and not even phone the number, as you may be charged.

Have you received a ‘Fifa’ lottery or similar letter claiming you’ve won a large cash prize? Did you part with any of your personal information in a bid to claim it? What happened?


Years ago, I ‘won’ one of the prizes in a list where any of the lowest value prizes was worth having.

As I lived very close to the prize giving company, I went and collected my prize and was given a cheap pen that couldn’t have been worth more than £1 but was listed as one of the top prizes being worth about £200. I was then escorted from the building.

After that, I ignored any prizes I might have won.

I received an email 3 days ago from “Paypal” tellling me my account was being suspended because of unusual activity on it which now needed to be investigated. I only had to “click on the link below to confirm my identity” so the problem could be sorted out. Did I click on it, NO, I did not. Did I log onto my Paypal account to check it out for “unusual actiivity”, YES i did. As expected, there was nothing amiss. To the unsuspecting, this email looked genuine enough, but it was a total SCAM. Forwarded it to “spoof@paypal.com” , as you should.

Chris says:
19 December 2017

900,000 prise! No invite to top notch London Hotel for posh dinner event, no photos taken for marketing opportunities? Just require bank details and the like mmm.
No I didn’t reply to my good fortune, well it was only 3rd price and only 20,000, that was some 8 years ago.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

SOME will always fall for ANY scam no matter how well known by all ” Fools and their money are easily parted “

fake lotteries
On this occasion, the victims of Philippe Ballesio receive an email from a lottery that is from another country (China) and that the victim has never played. In the message you are informed that your mail has been chosen from among thousands and that you must send a certain amount of money for the costs of sending the prize. In some situations, the emails are backed by “executives” from companies like Apple, where Philippe Ballesio worked as an engineer, but it is a total lie.

Yes I have just received today a letter from International Postcode Online Lottery. They claim I have won £900000. I would love to know who is behind this and out them.

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greg says:
2 August 2018

just received same letter. withheld my number and rung him. didn’t want to know anything other than did I want press involved and how did I want to receive the money… lets see lol

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Greg says:
2 August 2018

Only just now I have, I was more curious to see if anyone answered, I never gave any information out so I can’t see the point in them doing it.

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Thanks for informing me of the true situation. Had just today recived letter from INTERNATIONAL POSTCODE ONLINE LOTTERY. Amazing !so thought i would Google it. Thanks for the work your doing. Peter Rigby. Warrington

I’m a financial adviser and a client has just brought me his version of the International Postcode Online Lottery letter from Melbourne (£900,000). The thing that I find hard to understand is that they publish a landline and mobile number so surely the authorities could track these individuals down. I know we can all be seduced into how easy it is to find a mobile phone from ‘crime drama’s’ on the TV but surely the police can triangulate to where the mobile phone concerned is. As for a land line, shouldn’t the phone companies be closing down these lines once known to be operated by scammers/criminals. What checks are they placing on people requesting a new phone line. Full ID is required to open a bank account these days. Passport/Driving Licence and a Bank Statement followed by an electronic verification isn’t that hard to do. The feeling I have is that there are so many of these scams going on they just get added to the list.

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Thank you for this my 88 year old mother in law has received one of these letters They are targeting vunrable people it’s disgusting Please beware and check any old age pensioners that may be taken in by these letters

My elderly mother received this exact same letter today….for £900,000. It was printed on poor quality paper by a cheap printer. I opened it and was not the least bit excited. Thank you for this page and the advice on it. The letter will make a great teaching resource for a lesson at school.

My dad has just received the “you have won £900,000 International Postcode Online Lottery” letter. He’s in his eighties and although tech savvy has the misplaced trust in official looking documents that many older people have. He was going to reply to this scam as it included lots of real sounding information including logos for Tokyo 2020 and Quatar 2022, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and so forth. If you get one of these please do not reply. The next step will be to ask for money as an admin fee or something similar to release your fictitious prize money. Then they’ll ask for your bank details to pay you the money. Then they’ll do their best to take your money, as much of it if they can. Be vigilant. Anything that sounds too good to be true, almost certainly is. Did you enter the competition they’re talking about? If not, how could you have won. Don’t call, don’t reply, send the details to which or other scam watchers and report to the police. Then bin it.

Arron says:
1 October 2018

just received one today. 900k richer. especially i like the sentence:

‘please to help us proceed with your claims, this information must be kept away from public to avoid unwarranted abuse of the program or fraudulent acts from criminal minded and unauthorized person(s).’

so, just keep it quiet, dont tell anyone, ring the direct line and surely speak to non-criminal minded, non-fraudulent and authorized person:)

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Winifred says:
9 October 2018

Received this letter today. Knew it had to be a scam- as they say -if it sounds too good to be true- it is too good to be true (I am a 78year old female)

Maurice Mason says:
5 November 2018

I have just received the same letter as everybody else on here ,I guessed that it would be a scam I decided to google it and what I have read confirms my thoughts.

Kathleen timmins says:
12 March 2019

Received letter today so I phoned. He didn't ask me for any back details or anything.

Was it specifically about a Fifa lottery? We would recommend you check your phone bill carefully to check you didn’t get charged a large amount of money. We would also recommend you are careful about the other personal information you give out over the phone.

Terence O'Connor says:
25 March 2019

Hi Guy’s, Just got my letter from : INTERNATIONAL POSTCODE ONLINE LOTTERY Saying i have won £ 900,000.00p ha haha it’s in the bin, Please do not be fooled by these letters it’s a SCAM SCAM.

It’s off-topic but I presume that if contributors Kathleen and Terence are not registered users, Which? is unable to contact them. I realise that many users are not registered out of choice, but perhaps there could be some incentive for becoming a registered user. I wonder how many unregistered users discover a Convo, post a message and are unable to find their post or replies.

Tony says:
26 March 2019

Hi Guy’s , my 84 year old mum recieved one of the INTERNATIONAL POSTCODE ONLINE LOTTERY letters , rang me to check if it was a scam told her to bin it.

Emma says:
2 April 2019

Hi I have received a letter today and have the letter still if this is required. Never seen so many grammar mistakes you can tell it’s fake just from that.

W Bull says:
15 April 2019

I have a copy of the letter sent to my 80 year old Mum. How can I send the photo to you?

I suggest you send an email to conversation.comments@which.co.uk or use the form on this page: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

Colette says:
20 May 2019

My dad received a letter today saying he had won £900,000 from International Postcode Lottery, he is 86 and wondered what was going on. Dont know what other elderly people go on if they dont have relatives to stop them from contacting this scam machine