2006_09_09_ticket.jpgHere is yet another story that furthers our feelings that Lotteries, real and fake, just aren't a swell thing. No matter how much they rake in for the government, New York State got6.2 billion from its lottery last year, they rarely if ever pay out for those who partake in them, they give folks another place to gamble money that isn't necessarily theirs and just as bad they give con artists yet another hook to catch gullible people with.

But back to the story at hand. Over the past seven months over 400 New Yorkers have complained to the State that they have been ensnared in a scam which revolves around foreign lottery winnings. In many ways the scam is similar to your standard get-rich quick Spam e-mail.

Here's how it works: New Yorkers, often the elderly, get calls from a person claiming to be an official of a foreign sweepstakes or lottery. The caller says "winners" must send money, often to Canada, for taxes and insurance before the jackpot can be sent.

Each victim lost from several hundred dollars to more than $35,000.

There are a few lessons to be learned in all of this. One, "no legitimate contest makes you pay a fee to collect a prize." Second, if you get a call telling you out of the blue about a large some of money you've won, don't just be wary - giggle twice and call the Attorney General. And third, when it comes to lotteries especially remember folks, "to win it, you've got to get in it."