Lottery Scams And How They Work
Lottery scams and cons can turn the popular dream of winning a national lottery jackpot into an incredibly costly nightmare. Professional con men and their teams of cronies target the most vulnerable members of society by posing as lottery officials and informing the potential victim that they have won a prize. The prize is generally of a jackpot size, but some scams refer to more modest amounts in order to avoid arousing suspicion. Either way, the first point of contact is generally made using one of the following approaches:
- Direct mail. A letter is sent through the mail informing the recipient that they have won a lottery and need to register their claim in order for their winnings to be processed. To do this, the recipient is usually told that they have to reply with a processing fee and bank details or call a premium rate telephone number (which often isn’t referred to as premium rate at all).
- Telephone. A “lottery official” calls the potential victim to tell them about the “good news” and to try and extract a processing payment and/or bank details on the spot. These guys hope that the excitement of being told that you have won the lottery will make you drop your natural defences and give them the information or payment they require without putting up an argument.
- Email. This approach is similar to direct mail, but here the potential victim receives an email informing them of their “win”. Scam emails often look incredibly genuine, and some go so far as to link back to clones of official websites in order to alleviate any (perfectly valid) fears the recipient may have. Again, the aim is to extract money directly from the victim or gain their personal and financial details so that an act of fraud can be committed later. More recently scammers have been using the nondescript façade of “your email has been selected as the winning address from our online email promotion” which is an attempt to lure in recipients who have not purchased a EuroMillions ticket. In most cases the email has been sent from an account that anyone could have setup from a free email provider like Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail.
- Mobile. A text message, works similarly to an email, is sent to a persons phone and informs them that their mobile number was entered into a raffle or a lottery of some sort and was selected at random as the winner. The idea of scams done through text messages is for you to reply with either personal information about yourself or give out your bank details in order for you to receive your “winnings” (See example below).
It used to be the case that lottery scams always involved overseas lotteries. For example, in the UK scam operators used to pose as Canadian or Spanish lottery officials. But these days it seems that any lottery is used as cover, and a recent trend is for people to be conned by individuals purporting to act on more local lotteries such as EuroMillions or the Irish lottery.
More recently lottery scams do not come from fictitious lotteries but instead from winners of large lottery jackpots. Players that have come forward to claim large sums of money have their names released therefore some lottery scams now pose as these winners. These particular scams can come in one of the methods listed above and they can say that the winners want to share their jackpot winnings with you to help you out.
Whilst law enforcement agencies worldwide are working hard to identify lottery scams and bring their perpetrators to justice, the best way to avoid getting conned is to be personally vigilant. Here are three rules of thumb to keep yourself safe:
- Remember that you can only win a lottery that you have actually entered. If you haven’t bought tickets for the EuroMillions, Spanish or any other lottery, you can’t win, so don’t let anyone tell you any different.
- No national lottery requires any form of processing fee before paying out a prize. This is simply a lie used by scam merchants to get hold of your cash!
- Don’t rely on information provided in a direct mailing, telephone call, email or through text messages to authenticate anything. It is very easy for scammers to include an official address in an email and even a url to Euro-Millions.com or any other lottery site without permission. this makes it look official even when it isn't.
Examples of Euro Millions Lottery scams
Below is an example received by a mobile phone user was not caught out by the Euro Millions lottery scammers. There are multiple versions of these types of emails circulating but please do not send us any you have received, we receive thousands and cannot possibly publish them all:
UK EuroMillions Lottery - Mobile phone lottery winner scam