/ Money

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?

Gary says:
18 August 2020

I received my letter today along with my rates bill for the year , not too sure which one I believe to be true.
So excited about both !

Gary – You could write to your council about the rates bill and say you put it in your monthly lottery for bills to be paid and unfortunately it was not successful on this occasion.

Lynn Baker says:
7 September 2020

Just received copy of the letter, September 2020 in Lichfield Staffordshire, barely changed at all from your version. Impressive quality of paper and first class postage though!

Got my letter today and both me and my cat are over the moon because seeing i am single with no relatives the cat will get all of the £900,000 when i pop my clogs.

Got one today identical to the one posted except the final date to claim being 30/9/2020
arrived in a Royal Mail envelope with confidential on the front. Printing on the notification is poor with some part’s of letter’s missing but other than that look’s very official Must be paying them to do this as postage ain’t cheap

gwen francis says:
23 September 2020

I have received one of these letters today. and I thought it was too good to be true.
£900,000.00 would have been nice. They can dream on they won’t be getting my bank details.

ruth quigley says:
23 September 2020

Got a letter today in belfast someone should stop this scam awful for old people

paul levitt says:
28 September 2020

my mum got one today shouting me etc good job i was there otherwise she would of been scammed i did a quick check up postcode on th address was not real and program is spelled programme in uk

Phil Sears says:
6 October 2020

I got my letter today but they must have paid some people out as I’m only getting £825,000 !! LOL.

Yes! My wife received one of these letters this morning. Not being aware of the scam, I used the telephone number quoted in the letter (02070606204) to speak to ‘Mr Michael Holmes’ (probably a pseudonym!), identified as “the Foreign Service Manager of STANDARD CHARTERED FINANCIAL CONSULTANTS” ( probably non-existent!), a man with a foreign accent (Middle East, possibly!), who merely asked for confirmation of my wife’s address as given in the letter and whether or not she wanted it kept private. There was no other information either asked for or given – only that she should expect the cheque by next Tuesday.
Now that I am aware of the scam, we will not expect to see such a cheque, but I can’t help worrying that, somehow, he is going to extract money from my wife, even without knowledge of her Bank or her Bank Accounts. I would be glad of any advice from anyone who understands how these thing work.

William Robson says:
12 October 2020

Letter arrived this morning in a respectable envelope. First thought: if I have not contributed to a “lottery” how can it be paying out? Then you notice the poor grammar, and the logo for an Olympic Games which is not happening until 2021 (if then…). Then I checked on the phone number online, and here we are. I should like to find Mr Bernard Adams, the “Foreign Service Manager”, and introduce him to my Rottweiler, but I have no wish to poison my dog.

David says:
13 October 2020

Just received the international postcode online lottery as shown on your website. Thought straight away it was a scam and having googled it my suspicion was correct.

Ronald Mcnaughton says:
20 October 2020

Impressive letter except that ‘ Program’ is incorrect spelling. £900,000 would have been a nice Christmas present if legitimate, but as shown by your many contacts, it is false. A pity these ‘scammers’ cannot be caught because they lift the hopes of the very elderly and probably removes scarce cash resources from the most vulnerable of them.

Letter in todays post from International Fifa world cup lottery arrived with all similar “good news” as above (825,000,000 ! !) , would have been useful . They addressed it to my husband who died more than two years ago!
Be warned that anything that sounds too good to be true almost certainly is.

Mr Lindsay Cook says:
25 October 2020

This SCAM letter with that telephone number was sent to my mother who died last January. She wouldn’t even know how to switch on a computer, far less use an online lottery.
I have had an online search just now about this, and it is obviously a scam. I also get the impression it has been targetted towards people, who those thieving sods think are – elderly people.
I expect they will get their money from the premium rate phone calls that the process will involve for their unsuspecting victims. FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR BANK DETAILS !!

I’ve just received my letter in South Wales. Given that I’ve never entered a lottery online or otherwise, obviously I am over the moon to get this essential windfall and will be calling the number to give my bank details immediately!…NOT

JoanStrichen says:
26 October 2020

I received a letter from International Postcode Online Lottdery with reference to Tokyo2020 and Qatar2022.

Geoffrey Dowle says:
26 October 2020

Received a letter today from the International Postcode Online Lottery, said I had won £900.000, odd since I never knew who they were or wagered with them. Definitely a very large scam, I got caught a few years ago with BrokerZ.com, Just managed to get out of it after reporting these bandits (being polite) to the Financial Conduct Authority. Be very aware, if its too good to be true it normally is.

Alex says:
27 October 2020

Got the letter informing me of my fantastic £900000 lottery win. Can’t wait to buy my new house and book holiday to the Caribbean.Life is so good.

Isobel says:
27 October 2020

Yes, I received this exact letter; knew it was a scam and binned it.

Got my letter from International Postcode Online Lottery this morning. There was a fishy smell from the envelope. As an ex Trading Standards Officer, on reading the contents, the fishy smell got worse. The letter was identical to some posted on your site. Hopefully not very many will be ” taken” by this horrible scam, with Covid current and Christmas in the offing.

Bob Skelton says:
3 November 2020

Got My Letter today would have more chance of winning the national lottery than receiving a cheque from these scammers.LOL

People still play lotteries despite having very little chance of a major win. There are more efficient ways of supporting good causes. Both lotteries and scammers are exploiting the desire for money, but one is legal.