Your Guide to Dealing With Lottery Scams
According to the market reports, the expected size of the global lottery market can grow by $194.14 billion between 2021 to 2025.
Truthfully, we all want to wake up with a phone call that exclaims, ‘congratulations, you have won the lottery.’ But as much as lotteries are full of offers and fulfilling jackpots that can change your life dynamically, it is not always as it seems. The lottery phone call you may expect can be a scammer instead.
As much as people play the lottery today, there are lottery scams on the rise as well. These scammers target potential victims and always have new tricks up their sleeves. You may report one of the scam companies, but hundreds are waiting to extort your hard-earned money.
Everyone needs to stay vigilant against such fraudster callers. If you know how to identify one, you can easily avoid it and keep your money safe from their hands.
In this article, you will find out all about lottery scams, how they work, and the steps you should take to avoid them. Even though you may have never encountered any lottery scam, it is always better to educate yourself before you can fall into their trap:
What Is A Lottery Scam?
A lottery scam comes under advance-fee fraud and is the most common type of trick. The scam begins with an unexpected text message, email, or phone call, which typically mentions that you have hit the jackpot or won a large sum in the lottery. The caller further proceeds by telling you to contact a person who claims to be an official agent of the lottery company. The scammers warn you to keep your win a secret, and if you don’t respond quickly, you will not receive your prize.
Once they tell you to contact a claims agent, the scammer will ask you to pay transfer fees or processing fees to distribute your lottery winnings.
When you share your financial details, you will not receive any lottery money but instead, get scammed for thousands of dollars.
Moreover, the lottery scams use genuine and legit lottery organizations such as MegaMillions, US PowerBall, EuroMillions, and others. They even claim to call or send emails from national lottery companies such as the UK National Lottery, Italy’s SuperEnalotto, Barbados lottery, and many more.
How Does A Lottery Scam Work?
It is much more than just calling and scamming a victim.
Once you get a call, text, or email, the scammer declares that you have won the prize money and asks you to pay taxes or fees. They even tell you to send your proof of identity and bank details or credit card information so that scammers can transfer your winnings. Moreover, when one of the scams gets exposed, they change their organization’s name or come up with a new one.
When you provide your account details and transfer the fees, the fraudsters develop different reasons why they cannot transfer your winning unless you make another payment. Some of them even take your bank details and assure you that they will transfer the amount directly into your account. However, before you know it, they use the details to empty your bank account in no time.
Lotteries always require you to purchase a ticket in order to participate and you always have to pay for your ticket. Nothing is free. In most developed countries, lotteries are illegal except those conducted by governments and specific charitable organizations.
You cannot win a lottery if you never purchased a ticket! So how did lottery scammers get hold of your name when you never participated? These fraud companies already have names and addresses of potential victims harvested by viruses, spyware, and other tools.
They also obtain these details through various trade journals, magazines, newspapers, business directories, and newspaper advertisements. Even if your name appears on the internet, such as chatrooms and forums, the scammers can get hold of it. Furthermore, they can simply search for victims’ names using a country’s phonebook, either paper or online.
Here is an example of how a scammed email appears:
‘Congratulations! You have won a certified check for up to $300,000 US cash. You can collect it as a lump sum and free of tax. Your odds to win are 1-6. More than hundreds of US citizens use our secret system to win every month. Contact us to claim your winnings today’.
Tips To Remember To Avoid A Lottery Scam
Avoid any lottery scams by keeping these measures in mind:
- You need to enter a lottery to win.
- You should purchase a ticket first to participate in the lottery.
- No legitimate lottery organizations contact winners via email, text, or call. The winners must contact the lottery company instead.
- To claim your winnings, you never have to pay any processing fees or transfer any amount. Remember that you need to pay taxes after you receive the money and not before (varies country by country where many European countries offer tax-free winnings).
- Scammers frequently use the names of legitimate lottery organizations to perform fraud and gain the trust of victims. Find out the legitimate lotteries and avoid those who do not fall under them.
How To Avoid A Lottery Scam?
Lottery scammers come with new and dynamic tricks to steal the identity and money of people. You can stay vigilant and avoid these lottery scams by keeping these additional tips in mind:
- If you haven’t entered the lottery and receive a call or text, never respond to it.
- No official lottery operators ask for fees to collect the prize money. A good indication of extortion is when the caller tries to convince you to make a payment to receive your wings.
- In any case, never disclose your bank or other essential identification details. Never pay any fees in advance.
- Genuine lotteries announce their winners publicly. If any caller from a lottery organization tells you to keep your win a secret, it is likely a fraud.
- The easiest way to catch a fraud through email or text is to look for grammar. If the text contains bad grammar or spelling, this is a warning sign that you have encountered a scam.
- Have spam filters in your email account.
What Should I Do If I Become A Victim Of Lottery Scam?
If you think a lottery fraud has targeted you, you can do the following:
- Immediately report the scam to Action Fraud.
- For a diverse range of fraud charges, you can report to federal agencies such as The Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Federal Trade Commission, The Internal Revenue Service, and The Department of Justice Criminal Divisions. Many of these agencies work together to investigate lottery fraud.
- You can also contact your local consumer protection office or your state attorney general.
- If you respond to emails, texts, or calls by the fraudsters, break off the communication by blocking the contact.
- Be on the lookout as you can become a potential target for other different types of frauds. Scammers often share information about people they have successfully scammed or approached. They use different identities to try extorting money.
- The lottery scammers are always one step further. When they find out that the victim is seeking help from a lawyer, they try to commit a ‘fraud recovery fraud.’ Here, the scammers contact people who have lost their money through such scams and pose as lawyers or law enforcement officers. They promise the victim that they can help them recover their money but always request a fee before doing so.
- Please inform your friends and family about the scam to help them stay alert as well.
I Already Paid Money Or Provided My Personal Information To The Scammer. What Should I Do?
Scammers ask people to pay in ways that make it challenging to get the money back. No matter the amount you have paid to the scammer, you need to act soon. Here’s what you can do:
- If you paid the money with a credit or a debit card, contact the bank immediately. Inform them that it was a fraudulent charge and request them to reverse the transaction.
- If the scammer made an unauthorized transfer from your bank account, contact your bank and tell them it was an unauthorized withdrawal. Request them to reverse the transaction and give your money back.
- If you paid with a gift card, contact the company that issued the gift card. Inform them that your card was used in a scam and request a refund.
- If you sent a wire transfer through companies like MoneyGram or Western Union, contact the company. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer and ask them to reverse the transfer.
- If you shared your Social Security number, go to IdentityTheft.gov and follow the steps you should take, including monitoring your credit.
- If you gave a scammer your password, change it to create a new and strong password. Change your other passwords as well.
Lottery scams are on the rise, wherein you can get scammed in unexpected ways. There are many lottery scam examples on the internet so we suggest to do some research. Always stay alert and act as quickly as possible in case a fraud occurs.