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On Your Side Alert: Fake lottery email targets hearing impaired

Published: Oct. 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2014 at 9:19 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Criminals are now targeting the hearing impaired. A viewer contacted 12 On Your Side after she was fooled into believing she'd hit the jackpot.

You've probably never heard of the U.S.A. Deaf Lottery and it's for good reason: it doesn't exist. But that's not stopping cyber crooks.

An email claiming to be from the phony organization is showing up in local inboxes.  The viewer, who admittedly fell for this, was too embarrassed to talk on camera but didn't want anyone else to be fooled and called 12 On Your Side to spread the word.

Ron Lanier, Director of the Virginia Department for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said, "To me it is like, how dare they. But we all know there are people out there like this. But usually when I see something like that, I immediately delete it."

Like with most of these email deceptions, these criminals are phishing for information. Our viewer was told her deaf friend had recently won $550,000 and she was a winner too. The catch was that to collect, she had to give up loads of personal information including her banking details. "It is someone trying to get something from you and you will get nothing in return," Lanier said.

When the viewer realized this was a big scam, she quickly contacted her bank. She says her accounts were not compromised. "I think they are mainly phishing for whoever will take the bait," Lanier said. "There are LISTSERV out there that cater to providing information to the deaf and hard of hearing community. Maybe they pick up on that."

Lanier also says some in the deaf community may be confused by the email because  American Sign Language is their first language and English is secondary.  The National Association of the Deaf is also aware of the deception and put an alert on its website, warning people not to reply to the bogus emails.  If you think you're a victim, contact your bank right away.

You can also report the email to Internet Crime Complaint Center. The website is

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