Lottery Scam Money Recovered - Sunday 19th of March 2006
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania – Attorney General Tom Corbetttoday announced that more than $175,000 has been recovered and will bereleased to consumers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, who weredefrauded in a 1998 Canadian-based telemarketing scam that promised anopportunity to win a share of the Australian Lottery. The funds were recentlyreleased following a protracted bankruptcy proceeding in British Columbiawhere the scam originated.
The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection will disperse thefunds to victims throughout the United States who lost money in the scheme.Those eligible for refunds must come forward and submit a claims form andsigned affidavit before a May 2, 2006 deadline.
Corbett said U.S. District Court Chief Judge Sylvia H. Rambo awarded finaljudgment in the Attorney General's 1998 lawsuit against Sushila Devi Kumar,also known as Sheila Kumar, and Sandhya Murthi, also known as Kelly Williams.Kumar and her British Columbia-based company did business under the namesSystems 3 Marketing Inc., SMI or Systems Marketing.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants' were accused of engaging in theillegal sale of foreign lottery tickets via telephone in the U.S. Thetelemarketers allegedly contacted mostly elderly consumers to encourage themto participate in a lottery "pool" that would enhance their chances of winninglarge prizes from the Australian Lottery.
Consumers said they were asked to pay various amounts to purchase a sharein a lottery ticket or series of tickets. Some unsuspecting consumers weretold that they had already won and were encouraged to roll over their winningsin the lottery "pool." The suit also claimed that consumers were neverinformed that participating in foreign lotteries is illegal under federal law.
"Unfortunately, some consumers were conned out of significant amounts ofmoney in this scheme," Corbett said. "The funds awarded in this case belongto these victims and our immediate goal is to encourage those entitled to themoney to come forward and obtain their share."
Corbett said any consumers who paid money to Systems 3 Marketing Inc.,Systems Marketing or SMI for chances to participate in the Australian Lotteryare eligible for a refund.
Any U.S. resident who suspects that he or she is eligible for a refundmust submit a SMI claim form and signed affidavit before May 2, 2006. Noother documentation is necessary. The form and affidavit can be downloaded byvisiting the Pennsylvania Attorney General's website athttp://www.attorneygeneral.gov. Those without access to the Internet may call(814) 471-1831 to receive the forms in the mail.
Once completed, the SMI claim form and signed affidavit must be mailed tothe following address before the May 2 deadline:
Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
171 Lovell Ave., Suite 202
Ebensburg, PA 15931
Corbett said the amount of money consumers will receive will depend uponthe total dollar amount of all claims submitted. If the total amount of allclaims received exceeds the amount available for distribution, pro ratarefunds will be issued. The funds are expected to be distributed to consumersnationally before July 2006.
The cross-border prosecution was led by Senior Deputy Attorney General E.Barry Creany of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection and theBritish Columbia Director of Trade Practices. Corbett also thanked the U.S.Department of Justice Office of Foreign Litigation for its assistance in thecase.
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