How to Identify Lottery Scams

Signs of a lottery scam
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  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
  • Published:

A lottery scam is an effort to fraudulently get money out of you by pretending you’ve won something. These scams prey on our desire to win.

In fact, scammers know that offering big sums of money is just too good to pass up for some people. It’s why they’re successful. While the details change, the principle is the same: you’re told you’ve won a lottery jackpot.

To get your hands on your winnings, you must send a small amount of money to cover things like admin fees, taxes, and even customs charges.

Lottery scams are usually carried out in bulk, through several channels. The success rate doesn’t even need to be that high for scammers to make cash.

To help you protect yourself, here are 3 common lottery scams you need to know about.

  1. Email Addresses

One of the biggest lottery scams has got to be through email. It doesn’t cost the scammers a thing, and they can send out hundreds upon hundreds of emails. Even if a few people bite, they’ll still make a decent amount of money.

Unless it’s a lottery provider you’ve registered an account with, it’s important to understand that nobody will ever send you an official email to say you’ve won something. Also, all you have to do is take a quick look at the email address. If it’s Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or any other kind of generic free email address, stop right there. Don’t click on anything, don’t respond to anything. If you really want to do a good deed, forward the email on to the actual lottery mentioned in the message. The same goes for post box stuff where an agent says they’re acting on behalf of a lottery.

The majority of lotteries rely on you to check your numbers and for you to get hold of them. It’s very seldom the other way around.

  1. Text Messages

Lottery scammers will try everything to grab your attention, including sending text messages. These messages usually contain a vague message congratulating you, along with an enticing amount of winnings. There’ll also be an email address or some other way to contact them.

Text messages may be short and sweet, but they can be very dangerous. Those email addresses and active links make engagement one quick click away.

These links more often than not open the way for spyware and malware to be loaded onto your mobile devices. Even scarier, smaller screens on mobile devices make fraudulent websites a little more difficult to spot.

  1. Over the Phone

Even in the age of texting and typing, scammers still love using the phone to make direct contact with potential victims. It’s not uncommon for lottery scammers to target the elderly or lonely, who are often the most vulnerable to manipulation.

The longer the scammer can keep you online, the more likely you are to build trust. Over the phone, these underhanded people claim to be calling from customs or some other official organisation. They go into detail about your winnings, that they say they’re holding on your behalf. They then inform you that once the taxes and other fees are paid, they’ll release your prize.

Sometimes, scammers will go as far as to pretend to be a lottery company’s lawyer, and then try to arrange for cash to be sent as admin fees.

What to Do If You Fear You’re Being Scammed

The good news is, we’re savvy to these ploys. Here are a few things to do if you fear you’re being scammed:

  • Never open any links contained in suspicious emails
  • Never disclose any financial or personal information
  • If you receive an email or letter claiming you’ve won a lottery prize that you haven’t entered, destroy or delete it – either immediately or after sending it on to the appropriate organisation
  • Never respond to or contact the sender
  • Never send any money
  • If you have responded to an email, text, or letter, break off contact immediately
  • If you were quick to provide financial or personal information, alert your bank right away
  • If you do receive a suspicious email or have reason to believe you’ve been the victim of a lottery scam, report it to your local authorities immediately

Lottery scammers are out there, and with the internet and communication advances, they’re finding all sorts of ways to get money out of the unsuspecting. Don’t be a victim! Use the above tips and common scams to make sure you never fall for it!

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