She might be in her 80s, but you've got to be pretty smart to get one over this Whangārei grandmother.

Jenny, not her real name, is used to getting telephone calls from scammers trying to get access to her computer. She doesn't have one so she gives them short shrift.

''You've just got to use your common sense really. There are too many of these scams out there,'' she said of the many calls she's received from overseas.

So when she got a personal letter in the mail and opened it to find a glossy brochure and scratchie cards telling her she'd won US$220,000 to travel around the world her common sense automatically kicked in.


''I knew it was a scam straight away.''

The letter had postage stamps from Malaysia on it and was from a company calling itself Masterpiece Vacation and promoting a number of lottery prizes on the scratchie cards - a top prize of US$320,000 and two second prizes of US$220,000.

''It was just too suspicious. Stamps from a country I've never been to and have no friends there; prizes in US dollars, but sent from Malaysia, it didn't add up.''

The old adage of if it sounds too good to be true it probably isn't jumped out so she brought the brochure into the Northern Advocate in an effort to warn others about it.

''I was going to go to my neighbours to see if they had got it too, but thought I'd bring it in.''

Jenny said she may be 83, but she's not going to let a scammer get her money and she urged others to use their common sense too.

Netsafe, which monitors scams in New Zealand confirmed it was scam and said it has had many reports of this type of scam.

''This scam involves sending out scratchie tickets, one of which always wins a second prize. Scammers send these out at random, hoping that people will give their personal details and ultimately send money to release the prize winnings,'' a Netsafe spokesperson said.


''These scams come by post and from many different company names - usually travel companies.''


1. Never send money to claim your prize, especially via a money transfer service such as Western Union.
2. Protect your personal information, don't give out bank or passport details.
3. Don't call the scammers to check on your win, they may be using a premium rate telephone number.
4. Search the name of the company the word 'scam' to see if others have reported these scratchies.
5. Warn friends and family about this ongoing scam.

There are scam watch updates daily at or the Ministry of Consumer Affairs at - both are good sites to check on scams or phone 04 474 2750.