It won’t be you: Dr Benjamin Lawson’s lottery scam aims to fleece the unwary

There are some con artists who, it seems, never give up despite the repeated attentions of the media and, presumably, the authorities.

Take Dr Benjamin Lawson, whose doctorate I suspect to be as fake as the rest of his purported profile as ‘the Foreign Service manager of Zenith Financial Management’. This is a claim that may come as a surprise to a blameless company of independent financial advisers in Aberdeen.

Benjamin is in the habit of writing to people up and down the country to announce their good fortune in being awarded sizeable cash prizes ‘from the Postcode Lottery bid award International program’.

The letterhead boasts the logo of the People’s Postcode Lottery, which is real if a little less famous than the National Lottery, and in the example I’ve seen, an address at Zenith House, 429 Canada Square, London, E15 5FW. This does not exist. There is a Zenith House: a development of smart new apartments in Colindale, north London. And there’s a Canada Square in Canary Wharf, which is in E14.

The letter purporting to be from the People's Postcode Lottery

The letter purporting to be from the People’s Postcode Lottery

In the case of my mother-in-law, who lives in Carlisle, her share of a £45m pot amounted to £325,000. Tempting? Possibly. One snag, though. She has never knowingly purchased a ticket from the People’s Postcode Lottery. Benjamin has an answer to that.

‘Participants in this programme [at least now he’s corrected the spelling, but read on for more simple errors of English usage] were randomly selected by computer from database of the Electoral roll resident in the United Kingdom, winners in different categories emerged by computer random selection from pool of over 12 million names.’

My mother-in-law and the recipients of similar letters are invited to ring Benjamin to arrange ‘the processing and remittance of your money’. She decided not to take up the kind offer, but I couldn’t resist calling the number given in the letter for this self-proclaimed ‘Government-license Lottery Service Agency’. The letter says the company ‘has been marketing NationalLotteries to subscribers for over 23 years. Acting as agents on behalf of Lottery players around the world, ZFM makes it possible’. That must be when the ink or the imagination ran out. For the sentence ends in mid-stream of consciousness.

Somewhere in inner London, Benjamin answered the phone call to his number, 0207 060 5543. What usually happens next is that he invites you to send money to cover the processing costs of claiming your prize. Say £200. Pay up and, of course, nothing ever arrives. Benjamin pockets your money and moves on to his next phone number before you think to call the police or trading standards.

He told me he was with a ‘client’ who was making background noises that sounded uncannily like a small child, but would call back if I left my number. I declined, pointing out that he was known up and down the country to newspapers and trading standards officers for misrepresenting himself as an agent of the People’s Postcode Lottery and for attempting fraud. Curiously enough, he put the phone down when challenged about his scam.

So what do Cumbria trading standards say? Well, I reported the letter to the Citizens Advice helpline that now fields calls to this service. The call handler, Jon, seemed quite keen not to prejudge Benjamin’s blatant criminality. Must be the British sense of fair play. Case number noted, he suggested a call to Action Fraud, ‘the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre’. Oh, another call centre. I lost patience after making two calls totalling about 10 mins. These were spent in a queue listening to the repeated message that Action Fraud can’t help to recover any money but trained agents will advise you on the next steps to take. Sounds more like Inaction Fraud.

From their quotes in previous news stories, the People’s Postcode Lottery are, rightly, heartily sick of having to explain that they have nothing to do with such letters.

And that’s where the matter rests. My mother-in-law’s too smart to be fooled, but others may be more vulnerable to this type of crime. There must be money in it, or the scams would not be worth the price of postage or paper. And because the sums stolen are individually small, there’s little chance of putting anyone behind bars.

There are variations on the theme. Sometimes the writer is one Baron Wheels, president, though of what isn’t clear. His agents include Anthony Stan or Martin Adams, on phone numbers with 0203 codes. So it’s like those famous letters from Nigeria, encouraging recipients to indulge in a little profitable money laundering. It’s too good to be true and you’ll lose money. And the criminals? They’ll be gone with the wind.

34 thoughts on “It won’t be you: Dr Benjamin Lawson’s lottery scam aims to fleece the unwary

  1. julie Carberry

    I received one of these letters today for my dad who has been dead for 6 months!! I called and they couldn’t give me any info so I know it is a scam. I am taking the letter to the police station.

    Reply
  2. Mary phillips

    My uncle has had one if these letters today and has called the number quoted half convinced it is real however his 95 year old wife has convinced him along with me that it is a sick scam – would you believe the gall of Benjamin lawson he actually rang my uncle whilst I was there but got very short shrift

    Reply
  3. arbiter

    It is unlikely that the telephone numbers actually reach anyone in the UK (by the way the London area code is 020 by itself, not 0203, 0207, 0208) .
    The major problem has been in the past that Royal Mail have allowed these bulk mailings, sent from abroad, and then refused to cooperate with Police and Trading Standards because you are not allowed to interfere with the mail in transit.

    Reply
  4. Colin White.

    I have such a letter and know it to be a scam. However, I have thought about replying via fax. and asking Mr.Lawson to pay my winnings directly by cheque. Is there any danger in me having my joke with this thieving b…..d!

    Mr. C. ( the get your own back brigade)

    Reply
  5. Brian scrivener

    I have just received the postcode,lottery letter confirming a win. If you study the letter carefully you can see it is a photocopy. Having spent over ten minutes holding on to speak to someone in action fraud I hung up. If it looks too good to be true then it is a scam. Hazel. Shropshire.

    Reply
  6. Michael Martin

    Just received my letter from Dr Lawson this morning. Companies House shows Zenith Financial Management was dissolved a couple of years ago so it was clearly a scam but thanks to Paul Nettleton for his research and Google for finding it

    Reply
    1. paulnettleton Post author

      Thanks for your comment and the information on Zenith Financial Management from Companies House. From other media coverage, this is not the only company name used in this type of scam,nor is Lawson the only contact name.

      Reply
  7. Brian lloyd

    I’ve got an identical letter and I wonder how this guy has been able to continue in his criminal ways. Can’t the authorities take action and lock him up or fine him heavily for all the misery he has caused and will continue to cause.

    Reply
  8. TracyViroool

    My mum had an identical letter to above – I tried to call Dr Benjamin Lawson on 0207 060 5543 but no answer – hopefully he’s behind bars somewhere, or he’s scammed someone who has found him and given him a nice beating !!!!!

    Reply
    1. paulnettleton Post author

      I can’t approve of violence. These criminals (there are clearly a number) should be tracked down and locked up

      Reply
      1. Julie

        Yep Dr Lawson is still up to no good. On a positive note my 83 year old mum has had a lovely few days sitting in the sunshine in her garden planning lovely treats for all her family. Alas who needs money with such a loving mum as mine.

        Reply
  9. Anthony Clarkson

    Many thanks for your research and information, Paul. My wife received the identical letter yesterday, stating she had ‘won’ the same £325,000, and like everyone else became suspicious because she had not purchased any so-called lottery tickets. I am also advised that there is no such thing as the Lottery Service Agency.
    I shall be informing the local Trading Standards people.

    Reply
  10. Harry Towers

    I received such a letter on the 091016 but now it is Blackhorse and not Zenith. Also the Tel: No has changed to 02070606872 speak to a Nigel van-Dyke they say they will take 5% of the winning amount after you have received the money?

    Reply
  11. Stan. Grojec

    I have just received same letter, but the contact name is different to these reports.Please let it be passed on to everybody this scam.contact name is, NIGEL VAN-DYKE phone No.0207-060-6872. They must think that we are as stupid as them.

    Reply
  12. wsteve

    My letter is from Dr Edwin Clarke – he still hasn’t bothered to correct the obvious spelling and grammatical errors. Apparently, he is the Foreign Service manager of Ladbrokes Financial services PLC no less. He should be strung up.

    Reply
  13. Amber

    Just received one of the Health Lottery letters saying that I had won £300,000. With all the same details as the previous reply. These people are relentless in their persute of defrauding people out of their hard earned money.

    Reply
  14. RCAW

    Yup same scam just different information
    Nigel Van Dyke
    Dr D Duke
    0207 060 6872
    075877012224
    Head office???
    Zenith House
    216 Bishopsgate
    Liverpool Street
    EC2M 4QB

    Shredder!!!!!

    Reply
  15. Alison Joseph

    I have received a letter almost identical today. The letter heading is EUROPEAN HEALTH LOTTERY.
    Head office is Seestrasse 61 posifach, CH-8027 Zurich

    Strange that the Audit control number and I.D. number are both identical to the letter above.
    Also the batch number is identical.

    The name at the bottom is Mr C Martins and the signature the same as above letter.

    The lottery ticket number and serial number were identical as above and also the drawn winning numbers were identical. What are the odds of that? ( haha)

    Says to contact David Nilsen of Global Financial Consultants Tel: 0161-667-1518

    The strangest part of the letter was a paragraph saying:

    Please to help us proceed with your claim, this information must be kept away from public to avoid unwarranted abuse of the program or fraudulent acts from criminal minded and unauthorized person(s).

    Knew straight away it was a scam….but shame, as I could do with the £680,000 it was promising me!

    Reply
  16. Caroline Beck

    Hi I have just received a letter saying it’s from the postcode lottery the same as yours but my said Dr a Clarke and the address is Ladbroke imperial house 44 cannon St London ec4n6jj and the phone numbers ate 0207 859 4304 or 0737 584 9377

    Reply
  17. Susan latim

    This letter by a Mr Baron Wheels arrived today for my partner loooool! We knew it was a scam but thought we would see if anyone else had received such a letter looks like they are still at it who ever they are!!!!!

    Reply
  18. fiona russell horne

    I got the European Health Lottery version of this just now. A couple of hours after a phone call purporting to be from the same people which I thought was odd. If I don;t claim it by April 22, apparently the £685k will be sent to the Internal Revenue UK as unclaimed. So that’s nice.!!

    Reply
  19. jules

    It’s now the Health Lottery UK
    Same format same winning numbers.
    Mr Alex Hadid 0203-318-9702
    If anyone is trying to track him

    Reply
  20. Jacqueline holland

    I’ve just received the European health lottery letter and for a short moment thought all my wildest dreams had come true. Alas I came to my senses, but these people should be strung up it’s a very cruel thing to do to people and unfortunately some people will be taken in by it and lose money
    I’m taking my letter to the local police station

    Reply
  21. Andrew Scorfield

    My Mum received 1of these letters purporting to be a DR ADAM CLARKE FROM LADBROKES FINANCIAL SERVICES PLC.
    Most of the SHIT(Excuse my language) in the letter you received is in hers, barring the minor adjustments.
    We IGNORED THIS LETTER,but imagine those that have responded,LOSING money to these EVIL SCUM.
    LETS HOPE THE BASTARDS ARE CAUGHT SOON.

    Reply
    1. Geoff.Heal

      I`ve just won the People`s Postcode Lottery…..Hurrah ! and I`ve just spent it all (in my dreams). Dr.Benjamin Joseph should be castrated when caught. £355,000 ? BULLSH.T.

      Reply
    2. charlie

      Just got one from a Dr D Hoff. Same numberd everything. Belgravia financial management. Such lazy scamming, its like they arent even trying…how are they not arrested.

      Reply
  22. Val Sayer.

    They are still doing this scam. I received one today from PEOPLES POSTCODE LOTTERY.
    Name Dr Benjamin Joseph and same Telephone Numbers. How sad is this, I was having some lovely dreams to but decided it couldn’t be true so had to check on it. Its my husbands Funeral the 29th June 17 so would have felt safe just being a new widow. Please someone catch them.
    Val Sayer.v

    Reply
  23. John Hamblett

    I’ve received exactly the same letter today from “Heath Lottery UK” with advice to call Dr D. Hoff, I suspected it was a scam & it took about 30 secs to confirm it.

    Reply

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