How to identify a lottery scam
First and foremost - It is NOT possible to win a prize for a lottery, raffle, sweepstake or competition that you have not entered.
Unfortunately fraudsters are constantly devising new ways to deceive members of the public into believing that they have won fictitious prizes. These scams are usually in the form of a letter or email claiming that you, your mobile number or your email address have been "randomly selected" to win a prize.
The format of these scams may vary but the aim is always the same – to persuade you to pay a ‘processing fee’ or ‘taxes’ in order to claim your fictitious prize or to part with personal information which may then be used for identity theft.
If your suspicions are raised by a phone call, letter or email you have received, the following information will be useful.
- Is it a scam?
- It is not possible to win a prize for a lottery, raffle, sweepstake or competition that you have not entered.
- To win a lottery prize, you MUST have purchased a ticket and your number selection MUST match the minimum number of balls required to win a prize.
- There are NO legitimate lotteries which offer prizes based on randomly selected mobile phone numbers or email addresses for games which individuals DID NOT ENTER.
- A legitimate lottery will not ask you to pay any kind of ‘fee’ to receive your prize.
- A legitimate lottery will not ask you to pay the ‘tax’ due on the win in advance of receiving a prize.
- What to do
If you receive a letter or email which claims that you have won a prize for a lottery/raffle etc that you have not entered, we would strongly recommend that you:
- DELETE or DESTROY the letter or email immediately.
- DO NOT open any link contained in a suspicious email.
- DO NOT respond to, or contact, the sender.
- DO NOT disclose any personal or financial information.
- DO NOT send any money.
- IF you have already responded, break off contact with the fraudster immediately.
- IF you have provided personal or financial details, alert your bank immediately.
- IF you receive a suspicious email, or believe you have been the victim of internet fraud, report it to the police.
- Clues to look for
- The email is sent from a free webmail address (e.g. @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com, @gmail etc).
- The letter or email does not address you personally but instead starts with something vague like ‘Dear Winner’.
- Scam letters are often on poor quality, photocopied letterhead (although some will include a genuine business address in an attempt to provide legitimacy. The use of such addresses is not authorised and the fraudsters hope that the ‘victim’ will make contact via email or telephone rather than post).
- There is often a strict time limit to claim the ‘prize’. This is intended to put the potential victim under pressure and deter them from seeking advice or investigating the matter further.
- Confidentiality is often demanded as a ‘condition of winning’. Again, this is to deter the recipient from seeking the advice of friends or family who may be more familiar with this type of scam.
- Poor spelling, grammar and syntax are usually a good indication that the letter or email is a scam.
We frequently receive copies of scam letters or emails sent in by members of the public, many of whom are attempting to claim their ‘prize’. These letters often include completed ‘claim’ forms with personal and/or financial details, copies of identification and, occasionally, receipts for ‘processing fees’ which the victim of the scam has transferred to the fraudster's bank account in order to claim their prize. Sadly, that is money the victim will never see again and is likely to lead to the fraudsters requesting yet more and more money for such things as ‘admin’, ‘processing’ and ‘transfer’ fees.
While law enforcement agencies worldwide are working hard to identify lottery scams and bring the perpetrators to justice, the best way to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud is to be constantly vigilant.
Online scams and identity theft are a serious problem and fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods to entice their potential victims. The following website offers advice to avoid becoming a victim of online fraud.
Lottery / Raffle / Sweepstake scams can turn the dream of winning a jackpot into a costly nightmare. Here are some of the most popular methods used by fraudsters.
Initial contact is generally made using one of the following approaches:
- Direct mail. A letter is sent through the post informing the recipient that they have won a lottery prize and must register their claim in order for their winnings to be processed.
- Telephone. A ‘lottery official’ calls the potential victim to tell them about the ‘good news’ and tries to extract a processing payment and/or bank details while the victim is still in shock.
- Email. This approach is similar to direct mail, except the potential victim receives an email informing them of their ‘win’. Scam emails in particular often look completely authentic and may even link back to clones of official websites. Although it may be tempting to respond to an official looking email, doing so will simply allow the fraudsters to open up a dialogue in an attempt to convince you of their authenticity. Please remember that they are very good at this – it's how they make a living!
- Social Media. Members of social networking sites like Facebook are sent a direct message stating that they have won a lottery or raffle game on a particular website.
- Mobile. A text message is sent informing the recipient that their mobile number was entered into a raffle or lottery and selected at random as the winner.
However you are contacted by a lottery scammer, the aim is always the same – to try and extract your personal details, banking information and ultimately your money.
Players can keep themselves safe by never giving out personal details to an unknown party via email, letter, telephone or text.
- Examples of Lottery Scams
As more and more people are becoming wise to lottery scams, fraudsters are getting increasingly creative. Here are just some examples of lottery scams you may receive:
- Second Chance Raffle: Usually based around one particular lottery, the scammer will claim you have won a prize in a ‘second chance’ raffle held by that lottery. NO genuine lotteries hold ‘second chance’ raffles.
- The Facebook Lottery: This will usually target members of Facebook and will claim your email address has been chosen at random to win a prize, either a lottery jackpot or a raffle.
- Lottery Winner Trusts: Some scammers are using the names of known philanthropic lottery winners in order to extract personal information, claiming that the legitimate jackpot winner is looking to donate to those less fortunate.
- Email Provider Lottery: Users of certain email accounts are targeted under the guise of having won a lottery prize sponsored by their email provider.
Below is an example of just one of the many scam emails in circulation. There are quite a few clues in this letter but scammers are getting better all the time.
UK Euro Millions
Batch Number: 9-28-36-41-49
Winners Number: 5-7
We wish to congratulate you on your mobile number success in our Euro Millions mobile number vote/ballot.
This promotional program is aimed at encouraging mobile phone users world wide to play our National, Thunder ball and Euro Millions Lottery Draw by text. It is sponsored by the National, Thunder ball and Euro Millions Lottery companies here in the United Kingdom.
Mobile numbers were selected at random worldwide for the sake of this promo. Your mobile phone number was attached to ticket/batch number 9-28-36-41-49, which drew the lucky numbers: 5 and 7, winning the lottery of £1,000, 000.00. (One Million Thousand British Pounds).
Provide the following details to process the release of your winnings and winners certificate:
- First Name:
- Middle Name:
- Last Name:
- Zip Code:
- Mobile Phone Number:
- Home Phone Number:
- E-mail Address:
- Fax Number:
Once again, Congratulations.
Note: All winnings MUST be claimed in 2 weeks otherwise all winnings will be returned as unclaimed funds.
UK Euro Millions Lottery