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Malaysian travel lottery fraud targets WA consumers

Issue Date: Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Commissioner for Consumer Protection in Western Australia Anne Driscoll has issued an urgent warning about a lottery fraud by a purported Malaysian travel company.

The Commissioner said Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet had been flooded with complaints about a glossy eight page brochure from a bogus Malaysian travel firm touting for business.

”It promotes the ‘Malaysia Starize Travelling Group’ as a leading organisation in the tourism industry, saying it’s been in operation since 1988. An internet search shows their website was registered through a Chinese Internet Service provider in March this year,” Ms Driscoll said.

“The brochure arrives in the letterbox in either a large white envelope or a large tan envelope with a typed address that almost looked handwritten,” she said.

What the Commissioner found most alarming was the accompanying “Scratchie” lottery tickets, compliments of the Starize Group, offering prizes up to 200,000 US dollars.

“All complainants to WA ScamNet have reported winning the second prize of 150,000 US dollars. However, a condition of collecting is that all prize winners must make available their personal details. Winners must also meet any applicable taxes or other charges”, Ms Driscoll said.

One complainant who contacted the scam promoters was asked to confirm their identity by faxing copies of their passport, birth certificate and driver’s licence.

The complainant was then contacted by a ‘Mr Lee’ of the ‘Hong Kong Monetary Fund Company’, who advised that the Hong Kong Government required a six percent fee to transfer the funds. Mr Lee generously offered to pay half the fee on the winner’s behalf, saying they would only have to wire him $4,500 to receive their prize Ms Driscoll said the promotion had all the hallmarks of an Advance Fee lottery fraud, and when pressed to provide information to the winners in writing, the promoters had
quickly backed-off.

“Despite our best efforts, Consumer Protection has also been unable to contact those behind the offer”, Ms Driscoll said.

The Commissioner said that, at first glance, the glossy brochure containing the lottery ticket appeared professional.

“However, an examination of the Starize website showed poor quality graphics which did not support the quality of the brochure,” she said.

Australia Post in Perth has confirmed a consignment of about one thousand of the brochures passed through its processing facility in mid April.

There have also been reports of similar mail in the ACT.

The Commissioner said Consumer Protection had asked Australia Post to intercept any further mail from this source.

”The Starize Scratch Card promotion appears to be a scam and consumers should not call or email the business,” Ms Driscoll said.

ENDS

Contact for media inquiries.

WA ScamNet