Lottery scams are some of the most popular types of fraud these days, often initiated by email, a phone call or a letter. There are a number of ways in which scammers attempt to defraud their unwitting victims, but all involve the promise of lottery riches and they all cost the victims money if they get sucked in.
As the old saying goes, if it looks too good to be true…it is! What’s the likelihood that a foreign company/charity/organisation will hold an international lottery that you’ve never heard of, that offers millions of Euros/pounds/dollars in prizes to people who haven’t even paid to play. Even if you believe that it’s a case of mistaken identity and you have been offered a prize intended for somebody else who did pay to play in it, surely you would have heard about this wonderful lottery draw before, especially if you’re a regular lottery player!
However, unfortunately thousands of people a year fall victim to lottery scams. We’re forever hearing stories about pensioners who have been conned out of their life savings or unsuspecting people who are dreaming of such a lottery win just as the scam letter hits the doormat – and are immediately hooked by the con.
Common Types of Lottery Scams
By far and away the most common lottery scam is by e-mail, often from free e-mail providers such as MSN, Gmail or Hotmail. These messages will almost always tell you that you have won a big lottery prize and you must contact the organisers by telephone before they can release the funds. Sometimes, this is where the fraud begins as the number you have to call may be a premium rate one that costs a fortune to make. This is before you’ve been asked to hand over any actual money.
Once you make contact with the scammers, the fraudster who handles the call will attempt to get some form of payment from you in order to ‘process’ your lottery prize. Common reasons used for the requirement of payment include processing charges, handling fees and transfer costs.
How to Avoid Becoming a Lottery Scam Victim
- ‘You have to be in it to win it!’ In simple terms, if you haven’t bought a ticket for the draw, you can’t have won its jackpot. There are no lotteries that offer draws with no tickets, that are simply drawn and the prizes distributed. Why would an organisation give away its cash for free? They wouldn’t!
- No reputable lottery anywhere in the world would ask for a fee before you can receive your prize. If you’re asked to pay, you’re about to be scammed. If winning a lottery jackpot came with any fees, taxes or courier charges etc, the sum would be deducted from your prize. You would not have to pay out any money to get your prize.
- If a representative of a mystery international lottery draw e-mails you and tells you that you’ve won a big jackpot, but then asks for money or bank details, run a mile. Well, at least either delete the e-mail and block the sender or forward it to one of the various agencies and organisations around the world, like Action Fraud in the UK or the Federal Trade Commission in the US, who directly tackle lottery scam fraud.
Examples of Lottery Scam Messages
Here’s a selection of lottery scam e-mails and letters that have been used by fraudsters over the years in an attempt to rob you of your hard earned cash.