You’ve won the lottery!
"You’ve won the lottery!" It’s something that many people want to hear. But sometimes those words come from scammers who are trying to steal your money or your identity. Some of those scammers have falsely identified themselves as being affiliated with any lotteries in the world. No representative of any lottery would ever call or e-mail anyone about winning a prize. Yourself need to claim the prize first.
How scammers contact you?
The scams take many forms and the scammers use many tricks. The criminals may contact unsuspecting consumers by email, telephone, mobile phone, or through social media sites, and tell intended victims they have won a large prize. They might identify themselves as being with legitimate lottery.
Social Media Scams
With the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, scammers have found yet another way to try and con individuals. They send messages to social media accounts, especially Facebook, claiming the recipient's profile has been chosen at random to win a “Facebook Raffle” or “Facebook Lottery”. However, there is no such game organised by Facebook and never has been.
Telephone Lottery Scams
Telephone scams usually begin with a phone call in which the intended victim is told that they have won a large lottery prize. The scammers are very good at sounding professional and knowledgeable enough to make the victim feel confident that the news is genuine. The victim will be asked to provide personal information such as their name, address, date of birth and so on, as well as financial information such as a credit/debit card or bank account number.
Mobile Telephone Scams
Many people are familiar with landline telephone scams, but mobile scams vary slightly. You could receive a text message stating that you are the winner of a cash prize draw, mobile raffle, mobile lottery game or similar, and that your number has been chosen to win a cash prize. However, if you call the number provided you can expect hefty call fees, plus you may even get your phone hacked if you do respond. If you reply in any way, you are enabling the scammers to access the information on your phone, SIM card or even data from websites you have visited - which, in the days of mobile banking, could be catastrophic for you.
Email Lottery Scams
The advantage of using email (as far as the criminals are concerned) is that hundreds of thousands of people can be contacted at the touch of a button for little or even no financial cost. It is therefore unsurprising that email lottery scams are the most common lottery scams of all. The approach taken in an email scam with the recipient being told that they have won a major prize and now need to submit their personal and/or financial information in order to make their claim. Of course, in this case all that the recipient has to do to provide the requested information is respond to the email as instructed.
Postal Lottery Scams
Postal lottery scams attempt to scam hundreds or even thousands of people simultaneously by sending letters to a mailing list of names and addresses. The letter is usually designed to look as authentic as possible, being printed on good quality paper and with various official-looking logos and areas of small print, but some postal scams don’t even go that far and instead rely on the trusting nature of the recipient to assume its authenticity. However the letter is presented informing the reader that they have won a substantial lottery prize and that this now needs to be claimed. And how does the ‘winner’ make their claim? Usually by calling a telephone number, in which case the scam proceeds as previously described, with the victim being asked for their personal and/or financial information.
Examples of these scams and fraud schemes include
- Sending you a bogus check and asking for your bank account information where it will be deposited.
- Sending you a notice that you have been awarded a prize and asking for a "Processing Fee" to process your winnings
- Sending you an email or letter advising that you've won the Florida Lottery and trying to obtain your personal information so "con artists" can contact you directly to persuade, harass or even intimidate you into sending them money.
- Using Offcicial logos or actual addresses on its fake correspondence in an attempt to make the scam appear legitimate.
- A stranger (who knows the ticket is stolen) asks you to redeem a lottery ticket for him.
Avoiding Lottery Scams
- If you don’t buy a ticket, you are not a winner.
- If you have a ticket, please check it directly with the official organization.
- No one representative of any lottery will contact you. You must to claim your prize.
- If you think the prize offer might be genuine, contact your local consumer protection agency – they may be able to tell you more about the offer and if it is likely to be a scam.
- Read all the terms and conditions of any offer very carefully – claims of free or very cheap offers often have hidden costs.
- If someone asks you to pay money up-front in order to receive a prize or winnings, it’s almost always a scam. Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay a fee to collect winnings.
- Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organization directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
- Do an internet search using the names or exact wording of the letter/email to check for any references to a scam – many scams can be identified this way.
- If you think it’s a scam, don't respond — scammers will use a personal touch to play on your emotions to get what they want.
- Never send money or give credit card, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email.
- Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency. It is rare to recover money sent this way.