World Lottery Scams
Lotteries provide an excellent cover for scammers looking to defraud unfortunate individuals by allowing them to tempt their victims with the promise of huge cash jackpots. Criminals will attempt to persuade innocent people to hand over cash or personal details by pretending that doing so will net the victim a huge windfall.
Stories about people falling victim to these scams are reported alarmingly often, so here are some tips for spotting potential lottery scams and advice on what to do if you have been targeted.
The Golden Rule to Avoid Lottery Scams
If you receive any communication informing you that you are due a lottery windfall, you first need to consider whether you entered the draw in the first place. The simple fact is that you are not able to win a lottery, raffle or sweepstake that you did not enter. If you are contacted about winning a lottery that you did not buy a ticket for then you are advised to not communicate with the sender under any circumstances.
Should you be told that you have won a prize in a lottery that you did enter, then you must check that the details of the ‘win’ match with the numbers and date on your ticket as well as with the published lottery results. Usually the onus is on the player to check their own tickets and contact the lottery about claiming any prize which they are due. If a lottery contacts you about claiming a win, other than to inform you that you should check your online lottery account, you should be very wary.
How Scammers Contact Victims
You could be contacted by lottery scams in a number of ways - by receiving a letter, email or text message or even taking a phone call in which the fraudster attempts to extract personal details from you for the purposes of stealing your identity or taking money from your bank accounts. Do not give out passwords and other personal information to anyone!
Sometimes you may receive a direct message on Facebook, Twitter or other social media informing you of a lottery win. No official lottery will ever contact you in this way
How do the Scammers Make Money?
Often the fraud will work by informing you of a huge amount of money available for you to claim but first requesting a ‘handling fee’ or tax payment in order to release the funds. Victims who pay these charges are then usually targeted for further costs before they eventually realise that they have been scammed. No legitimate lottery will ask you to pay any taxes directly to them - this is a matter for the government, not the lottery!
Sometimes they will simply ask you for your personal details and proof of identification, which means that they may be able to directly access your bank account or potentially even use the information to borrow money, create new bank accounts or generate new passports.
What Should You Do?
If you have been targeted by a lottery scam then it is best to avoid all contact with the fraudsters. If you have already been in contact with them, then immediately sever all links and inform your bank that your privacy may have been violated. Informing the lottery company under whose guise the scammer was acting might also help them prevent others who have been sent the same communication from being defrauded.
Many countries have action groups whose purpose is to battle fraud and you can turn to these organisations for help should you believe that you have been the victim of a lottery scam.