Villager falls for 'BBC lottery' scam, travels 1,700 Km to claim prize

There’s just no stop to Nigerian prince-style scam. An Indian villager was recently caught on the storm of a scam of this sort, when he travelled for over a 1,000 miles in order to claim a “BBC lottery” he thought he had won.


While emails have traditionally been the more preferred way to send out these scammy messages, Ratan Kumar Malbisoi of Orissa received a message on his mobile phone two years ago, informing him that he’d won BBC’s “national lottery” for Rs 20 or 30 million. He was asked to message his details to claim the money.


The 41-year-old unemployed villager said that along with him, several other people he knew received this message too but ended up deleting it. Malbisoi, however, spoke to the scammers and provided them with details like his account number, and other personal information. Malbisoi was asked to deposit Rs 12,000 to an RBI bank account before he could be given his winnings, but he was unable to provide this money.


Over a period of two years he would spend time over calls and letters to beseech the BBC “chancellor” to send him his winnings. He eventually headed to BBC’s head office in Delhi to see if a cheque had arrived in his name and that’s when the story unraveled.


The origins of these Internet-based cheatings lie in the Nigerian 419 scam. A person – usually claiming to be of a rich, noble descent – would ask victims for help to take a huge amount of money out of their country. Some scammers even claim that the victim has won a lottery or prize. To get their hands on the prize money or to keep a cut of the transfer money, the victims must provide bank details as well as processing fees, post which the scammers usually vanish.


SMS scams too have increased manifold in the past couple of years. Scammers usually use BBC or Coca Cola as a cover to complete this fraud since these are names easily identifiable by everyone. While most people choose to ignore these messages, some like Malbisoi get caught in the trap.

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