Avoiding Lottery Scams
Lottery scams happen everyday. At LottoGopher, we want our users to be aware of lottery scams. It important to be careful of whom you trust with your money both on and off the internet. Here is what you should be aware of:
- The lottery does not contact you to inform you that you won. It is your responsibility to check your tickets and collect your prize. If you are contacted via phone, mail or e-mail with claiming that you have won a lottery prize — disregard it.
- You do not have to pre-pay for prizes. All taxes and fees on winning prizes are deducted from the prize. If you win a lottery prize — do not pay anything to collect it.
- Lottery scammers will often pose as police officers, lawyers, custom officials or lottery officials.
- Lottery scammers often prey on the unknowing and elderly.
- If you are approached and asked to purchase a lottery ticket with a winning prize, do not purchase it. There are many fake lottery tickets available including both drawing and scratch tickets. Often times, the scammer claims that he or she cannot claim the prize due to their immigration status. Many states do not have laws to disallow undocumented peoples to claim a lottery prize.
- Delete or mark as spam any email with a suspicious subject line referencing lottery winnings. If you did not enter the lottery — you cannot win it. Often times you will receive an email stating that your email address was randomly selected and assigned to a winning lottery ticket. This is false.
- Never send money via Western Union or Moneygram.
- Do not cash checks sent claiming that you won the lottery.
One of the many ways scammers trick their victims is to create a false bank web site. They provide a username and password to the victim to log in and see "money" that is not actually there. The scammer will provide a bank account and routing number to the victim and tell them that a large cash deposit must be made for their funds to be released. Once the deposit is made the scammer will withdraw the money and close the bank account. Often times, the scammer will make up an excuse as to why the money was not released and instruct the victim to deposit more funds.
What scammers want:
Lottery scam letters and emails are sent out daily by the thousands. The scammers want two things - your money and your identity. Your identity is equally as important or even more so than any money. If an email contains a Trojan horse or spyware the scammer can get your identity as soon as you open the email.
What scammers will say:
They will say whatever they think you want to hear or will believe. They will pose as lawyers, claims agents, bankers, law enforcement agents, people of high rank in the government, gaming officials, tax collectors, and any title that make them sound trustworthy.
Scammers will ask for your personal identification:
This information is used to steal your identity. Regardless of you, credit scammers will steal your identity by using your personal banking, passport, driver's license, or credit card information. With your identity scammers can get jobs, a driver's license with your name and their picture and fake birth certificates. They can purchase items in your name and do not pay for them, causing irreparable damage to your credit. Identity Theft is a very serious crime and punishable up to a life sentence.
Scammers will ask for money:
Legitimate lotteries never ask for money. There are no fees. If you win a lottery the only money you owe is tax. You pay taxes directly to the government and often times are deducted directly from the lottery prize you won. The check is from the Lottery Company and will have the company name and verifiable address printed on it.
How scammers operate:
Often times scammers are operating outside of the United States. They will base their operation in a hotel room, back room or internet café. Scammers will have several pre-paid cell phones with the victim's name and their false identity taped to the back. Scammers can assume 30 or more false identities and titles at a time.
Will you get your money back?
In most instances you will not. If you send money via Western Union or Moneygram the trail is virtually untraceable. If the scammer is arrested and convicted he or she will likely have to pay restitution to their victims. However, if the scammer does not have the money and is sentenced to prison, they will likely have no means to pay the restitution to the victim. Or, restitution may be paid in tiny amounts over the duration of several years.
If the winning notification refers to a web site:
Anyone can purchase and register a domain name. A domain is merely a rented space on the Internet. No background check is made to determine the legitimacy of the person or business purchasing the domain. Lottery winning notifications often refer to web sites that are supposed banks, security companies, courier services or online sweepstakes websites. The websites appear to be real but are 100% fraudulent.
How Stuff Works: How to Detect Online Scams
Fraud Aid: Fraud Recognition & Prevention Education
Snopes: Resource to Verify Online Offers and Rumors
Videos of Scams in the News:
KSBW8 reports on Greenfield, CA man scammed when he paid $2,300 to cover taxes to receive his prize.
Joe Dupont issues a warning about a fraudulent check he received from winning a false lottery.
CBS13 report on fraudulent lottery checks will be sent if you pay for customs "clearance".
Expertrealestatetips.net reports on fraudulent email stating had won foreign lottery.