Any fraudulent operation (dealing with money) is usually termed a ‘scam’. Usually scams take place from an unsuspecting person or a deceitful organisation. With the evolution of the Internet, the world has become an easy playground, today, for fraudsters, as everything is accessible on the Internet. The public is often advised to refrain from becoming victims of Internet frauds, but scammers keep on trying, endlessly, as there are individuals who fall prey and become victims due to temptation and greed for money! The ultimate aim of the fraudster is to grab money, by hook or by crook, from another. For this purpose, they become deceitfully organised, 24/7, in a perfectly structured professional manner.
The writer is in possession of a scoop to expose a professional gang operating from Los Angeles, by using prominent names of Oprah W. Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. This is done despite the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration inviting the general public to report officially any such fraud, which he calls it, “ IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting”.
A ‘Pyramid Lottery’ with a spurious address in Fremont, California (name withheld) uses names, pictures and ‘doctored’ videos of popular names of Oprah Gail Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres,dispensing lottery prizes deceivingly, using the Face Book as their own lottery.
A friend known to the writer had responded to this ‘fake Pyramid lottery’ offer on FB. He only had to click on ‘like’ tab and type the word “I win” under comments on the advertised page. After a few weeks, he was informed by email (email@example.com) that he had won a lottery worth of $450,000, quoting a winning code No. FB 0089 as reference. (There are no hard and fast rules in opening email accounts ( fee of charge) under any name, neither is it illegal).
Pyramid Lottery later requested victim’s bank account number, copy of his passport and postal address(to confirm his identity) before remitting the winning prize’. This was followed by a request to send$200 via Western Union, as an Administrative charge, calculated at 0.4444% of his winning sum. The guy could not send money officially, through Western Union, and at that stage he sought the writer’s assistance requesting the writer to correspond with the Pyramid Lottery on his behalf, as he was notproficient to communicate in English.
The writer, after making a self-introduction, as the mandated representative of the ‘winner’, wrote to Pyramid Lotteries at Oprahw.firstname.lastname@example.org explaining the difficulties of sending money out of Sri Lanka via Western Union. The scammers in turn suggested many other methods ( they could not come up with their bank account details), but at the end of an exhaustive attempt, theGlobal Lottery suggested to send $200 via Bitcoins. At this stage, the writer explained to the victim by showing messages that had appeared in the Internet by Oprah Winfrey herself, advising people not to succumb to various internet frauds using her name, but all such advice fell on deaf ears of the victim.
Finally, $200 was sent via bitcoins to the Director of Payments (name withheld) to a designated bitcoin pocket, the receipt of which was duly acknowledged. Being tempted by the winning news, victim’s cousin too had taken part in the FB lottery and he too was informed (through the writer’s email) that victim’s cousin also had been chosen as the winner of the year end lottery (2018) for a sum of $5 million, for which a different winning code No. EVV17-2018 was sent! Accordingly, the victim’s cousin too had to pay the administration charge at 0.4444% on his winnings, which amounted to a large sum of money.
Getting engrossed in the joy of winning such a large sum of dollars, the victim’s cousin too became prey by sending the administration fee via bitcoins to a separate designated bitcoin wallet, which was also acknowledged forthwith by the Payment Director.
Subsequently, in a strange manner, the Payment Director wanted to know from the winners whether both winnings could be amalgamated into one account ( both winners being cousins and living in the same City in Sri Lanka) and send the winnings to a dollar account. At this stage, both pleaded with the writer to assist them. The writer had to quote one of his NRFC (Non-Resident Foreign Currency)
dollar accounts, which was hardly used (with a meagre credit balance) as a means of helping his friend-in-need. From this point onwards, the whole scene took a different twist as the writer’s name was substituted to receive both winnings of $5,450,000 to his NRFC account in a Sri Lankan Bank.
On 6 December 2018, writer received an email with an attachment copy of a perfectly designed telegraphic transfer, issued by Wells Fargo Bank CA, for $5,450,000 – (Ref. WTF 6603l ( 06/12 – 306148 /FO), issued under the writer’s name and quoting issuer as one Ms. B… Grayham, her Driver’s Licence No as Y-3586211 with a Beverly Hills address. Pyramid Lottery slipped up by using a bogus address in Fremont, California in the TT, and quoting a bank account No. as 1169002733.When registered letters were sent to this address in Fremont, the US Post returned those with the remark, ‘Insufficient address, unable to forward – return to sender’.
The writer having contacted the International Section of his Bank found out that the TT was a hoax.Upon enquiry from Pyramid Lottery, the Payment Director’s version was the beneficiary (in this case the writer on the TT) not being a US citizen, the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS) had frozen the winnings until an Alien Act Fee was paid to IRS first! The tax was calculated at $6,213 for the lot!
The credulous winners decided to pay the $6,213, also in the belief it was genuine US tax. So, they arranged this payment to go in two instalments via bitcoins! The first payment was duly acknowledged as usual, but the second payment was claimed to have gone astray and never reached the designated bitcoin wallet! The writer enclosed a confirmatory screen shot of the payment (as previously done), which indicated, ‘Withdrawal Confirmed’.
Payment Director was adamant in maintaining that bitcoins never reached the designated pocket despite the writer did investigate the matter with experts on bitcoin dealers and through the ‘block chain’ system, where all bitcoin transactions are recorded for years. This evidently led to the suspicion that some kind of jiggery-pokery was taking place with the Pyramid Lotteries at the US end.
Smelling a rat
The penny seemed to drop on the two cousins when they at long last began to smell a rat, but it was too late! The writer’s efforts and numerous communications that went back and forth did not bring any positive results, but the Payment Director and The General Manager (names withheld) at Global Lotteries stood firm stating that unless the final payment was made yet again, in bitcoins ONLY, theIRS would freeze the winnings! The writer through his circle of friends in the US found out that IRS would never freeze any lottery winning , instead they would deduct Tax at source and remit the balance to the winner of any lottery.
The writer’s appeal to the Management of the Lottery to deduct ‘IRS tax’ (if it was the stumbling block) from the winnings and to send the balance to the NRFC account fell on deaf ears. Desperate winners, meanwhile, through the writer, agreed and authorised Pyramid Lotteries to deduct $1M (one million) out of their winnings and to send the balance as a last resort! Even that was denied. Who on
earth would refuse to deduct one million dollars out of a substantial winning and to remit the balance to the winner?
Certainly, it proved to be the end of the game, when the Managing Director (name withheld) point blank refused to issue an official letter addressed to the Governor of the Central Bank in Sri Lanka, in order that the winners may officially seek permission to remit foreign exchange, if the IRS demanded the Alien Act Fee. Finally, the two winning parties realised how they had become victims of an international fraud!
At this point, the writer advised the US Treasury Inspector for Tax and created (Granicus Subscriber) Case #: 00399262 on 4/1/2019. He further wrote personally to Oprah Winfrey & addressed to her home in Montecito CA 93108, and dispatched via DHL courier service, exposing the two masterminds (with names) at Pyramid lotteries.
After exhaustive attempts to deliver the letter by DHL, the letter had to be returned to sender stating that ‘the Security at Oprah Winfrey’s residence could not accept any ‘parcels’ unless security had been advised by her!
This was followed by the writer dispatching two email communications to the Director of Communications, TIGTA, Karon Kranshaar at email@example.com, exposing the two culprits yet again at the Pyramid Lotteries, (attaching copies of the ‘bogus TT’ and Wells Fargo Bank Information and all bitcoin wallet references and so forth), yet the writer has not heard a dicky bird from any US authorities up to the time of writing this column. After all, it’s the very US Authorities ( Treasury Inspector for Taxes and the Director of Communications), who request the general public to report of any known scams through their website on any impersonations or scams!
It is rather a shame on the part of US Tax and Fraud Authorities to keep mum, when thousands of FB fans of Oprah W. Winfrey and Ellen De Generes are getting entrapped, on a daily basis, in such Internet scams, yet no remedial action seems to be taken overtly, especially when a volunteer has supplied all the vital data with intense and foolproof evidence to expose the two culprits who, are hell bent on misleading the public and thereby making a buck for themselves dishonourably, should be inside bars !
pic credit: Ceylon Today & Google pics