By Daniel Bardsley, Gulf News Reporter
Dubai, June 30, 2006.
A young Nepalese man is facing financial ruin after losing more than $6,000 to an internet lottery scam.
The 22-year-old, who earns just Dh700 a month, said he borrowed the money to pay "tax" charges after being told he had won $500,000.
The patisserie worker, who asked not to be named, has resigned himself to never collecting the fictitious lottery winnings.
"Now I think I have lost my money and I don't think there are any funds for me. I don't know how I will pay it back," he said.
In December, he received an e-mail saying he had won $500,000 (Dh1.83 million) in the Japan Email Lotto Promotion.
He later received a prize certificate through his e-mail account, but then was told by the fake lottery that he would have to pay thousands of dollars in 'income tax' in order to receive the prize.
In installments of $850, $2,600, $1,500 and $1,360, paid in December, January, March and April, he wired the 'tax' fees to a Chinese bank account, making a total of $6,310 (Dh23,175) paid out.
"They sent me an e-mail saying I had to pay them money and they gave me a bank account in China.
"I borrowed from my friends and my family to pay them. I just sent them the money because they told me I had won a prize. I am a victim of cyber crime. I have lost $6,310 which I can't get back," said the Nepali, who works in Sharjah and has lived in the UAE for about year.
The victim said he contacted police but was told that since the scam involved people outside the UAE they could not help.
Anti-fraud activist Joe Wein, writing on his website, said the fake lottery is thought to be run by fraudsters from Nigeria who are based in China.
"If you were to win a real lottery in Japan, the prize would never be paid out via an agent or by a bank based in China or any other country but Japan," he said.
Internet fraud experts say there are several ways to spot fake lottery prizes. Genuine lotteries do not contact people to tell them they have won instead it is their responsibility to check if their numbers have come up and then claim the prize.