Dominican Keno Scam

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, 27 September 2002 7:44 AM
Subject: I think I was scammed in the Dominican Republic:


My name is Jeffrey B and I am a US citizen who has just returned from my honeymoon vacation in the Dominican Republic. I stayed at the Secrets Excellence resort in the town of Punta Cana. They had a small casino in the resort which I was foolish enough to partake in one night after a decent amount of alcohol had been ingested throughout the day.

As my wife and myself walked through the door, we were greeted with free chips to use on their new "Super Keno" game. I obliged and started to play. The dealer was the only American at the resort and was a very smooth talker. I started to play and of course was getting all of the right numbers and watched my chances of winning grow and grow.

I got to a point in which I had no more cash to continue but was told to just use my credit card (dumb) which I did. In no time I was out about USD $7,000 and I finally realized that I wasn't going to win. The next morning I realized that I never saw any of the numbers that were supposedly picked and that the casino manager did all of the talking to my credit card company because I couldn't understand him due to a bad connection.

Later I found another gentleman from the US who lost $20,000 and his story was almost identical about how the balls were pulled and how the game progressed. I have told my credit card company that I want to dispute the charges but I have no real guidence other then people telling me that it was gambling and that there are risks.

Is this scam common there? Do I have anyone that I can turn to for help? I have been searching the web all day looking for answers and your site seems to be the best.

Another thing to point out is that I had problems with my reservations when I checked in and while I was fighting with the hotel, I missed an orientation meeting where the travel agency told everyone to stay away from the Keno.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Smartgambler reply:

Dear Jeffrey,

Sorry to hear of your very unpleasant experience. I have heard of similar scams before and believe this style of theft is not uncommon. It is too late now now to caution you to be extra wary when travelling abroad and to never accept anything free of charge from even the friendliest of people.

I believe that your credit card company is the best chance you have of recouping the loss, but it may depend on how quickly you brought it to their attention. I'd be surprised if you have no legal case for challenging the deduction if you can provide evidence that it was a scam. If you have any way of contacting the other American who suffered the same fate it may help build a case.

Alternatively you might be able to seek help via the US officials in the Dominican Republic. Presumably they could bring pressure to bear on the resort in question if they wanted to. I'm rather pessimistic about getting your money back via that avenue though.

Unfortunately the old rule that 'possession is nine tenths of the law' tends to apply in these cases, which is why you need to be so careful to avoid these scams in the first place.

I'm not without hope that your credit card company may be able to reverse the transaction after an investigation, if the amount has not already been transferred to the resort's account.

Let us know how you fare.


Guy West.
Managing Director OZmium Pty Ltd

Further correspondence:

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, 9 October 2003 7:40 AM
To: 'guywest_at_ozmium_dot_com_dot_au'
Subject: Dominican Keno Scam

I had the identical experience to your scam letter from Jeffrey B, dated 27-9-2002.

I was actually married on 27-9-2003, and on my honeymoon was scammed to the tune of $5,000 at the Superclubs Breezes Hotel in Punta Cana on the night of the 30th.

Any new suggestions since the ones given a year ago?

Thanks, Doug T.

Persistent scamming attempts

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2002 4:54 PM
To: guywest_at_ozmium_dot_com_dot_au
Subject: lottery scams in North America

Hi Guy,

Just before Xmas last year I got an unsolicited letter in the mail asking to buy a lottery ticket in the Super 66 lottery in the UK for $30 run by the European Lottery Guild. I would enter the game with a group of 10 other people. The potential jackpot was as high as Aud $88 million, so if one of us won that's Aud $8.5 to me. To obtain the ticket required a credit card purchase, which I proceeded with. All the gaming sales brochures looked professional within the letter and there was an extra promotional leaflet claiming that if I was one of the first 500 tickets to be purchased for the game I would be in a draw to win a free holiday to London, UK, which I filled out and sent off as well.

A few weeks later I got a letter, not a ticket as such, which put me in a draw with ten other names. Of course I didn't win anything on the date of this draw. So far, unremarkable.

A couple of weeks later I started getting phone calls at home and work from a group of people claiming to be the Canadian Lotteries Commission and later the European Lottery Guild asking me to buy tickets over the phone for games they were claiming good odds for. I declined to buy, but these people persisted in ringing me as often as once per week, pressuring me to buy their tickets.

At about the same time I started getting mail claiming that I had winnings that I could collect provided I sent money (e.g. $15) to the company in question. One of these letters claimed I could collect US $1 million in cheques if I filled out a (false) affidavit, no money required. Foolishly I signed this letter and posted it off. A few days later, realising I'd made a mistake, I tried getting the US postal service to recall this letter to me, which is possible in the US, but the mail clerk said that they were getting hundreds of letters in a day for the address I sent to and that they couldn't help.

So far I haven't been affected by this letter, but as a precaution I've changed my credit card and my signature. I now worry that someone could be using my name and signature to commit fraud in the US or other countries, rebounding on me eventually.

The conclusion I have come to is this. That the original letter (European Lotteries Guild) was a scam and all other phone calls and lottery scam mail that I'm now receiving was a result of the original company putting me on a mailing list so that other dodgy operators could send me their rubbish. The golden rules are these:

1. Don't reply to mail that you didn't solicit.

2. Don't send money to lotteries outside Australia, that you don't know are genuine.

3. Don't sign anything.

Finally in February I got a strange e-mail from a woman called Madam Sankoh from the Ivory Coast, in which she claimed she had $12 million in cash and valuables in a bank vault there and she would like me as her agent to move this sum of money gradually into a bank account in Australia, managed by me. I would get 10% commission.

I was skeptical at first saying that if the money was obtained through crime, I wouldn't have anything at all to do with her scheme. She told me that the money was legally obtained and belonged to her and that her husband was in jail and that her political enemies were trying to get it off her. I believed her and was about to make a commitment to her scheme, e.g. opening a bank account here, when I was luckily delayed by work commitments.

A week later I wasn't able to contact her. Fortunately I then ran a check on the name "Sankoh" on a web browser, when I ran across your scamorama mirrorsite which described an Australian bloke who had fallen for a similar scheme brokered by the Sankoh's and had lost thousands of dollars for his pains. Thanks for informing me about this type of scam.



Smartgambler comment:

Hmm. About three standard scams all attempted on the one person! There's the standard, 'you've won something, but first you have to send money' scam, the 'give us your credit card details for a purchase and later sign something so we'll have your signature as well' scam, and finally a variation of the 'Nigerian scam'. (See below)

It's quite likely all these attempted scams were actually the one person or group... scammers do not have a union and exchange mailing lists! Anyway, you seem to have come through relatively unscathed, though future credit card fraud is certainly a possibility. It would be a good idea to warn your bank of course.

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