Lottery scams can take the form of telephone scams, mobile scams, postal scams, email scams, and social media scams. These are criminal operations which aim to trick you out of your personal information and your money through nefarious online methods.
Forms of Lottery Scams
Telephone Lottery Scams
Fraudsters will tell you that you have won the lottery and that you will need to give them certain personal information such as your name, address, identity number, debit or credit card details, and bank details. Their justification for you having to give out this personal information is that you need to pay for handling charges, use the card as proof of identity, or your bank details are needed to deposit the winnings directly into your bank account.
Postal Lottery Scams
In postal lottery scams you will be enticed by a professional visual appeal, with criminals using professional looking logos and often using legitimate company names – sometimes however unknown names from overseas companies which may or may not exist are used. A similar format as to that of telephone lottery scams above are used for targeting potential victims as well as for justifying why they need your information, this time it is done in writing.
Mobile Telephone Scams
Usually comes in the form of an instant message to your mobile phone. This message will state that you have won money in a mobile lottery game, a cash prize draw, or a mobile raffle. It may also state that your number has been selected to win cash.
Email Lottery Scams
Works much the same as the telephone and postal scams. The email lottery scam is similar to the postal scam, only the letter is sent via email. The modus operandi of the scammers remains the same: to obtain the personal and financial information of the victims in order to steal money and commit identity fraud.
You will receive a message in your Facebook inbox that you have won a cash prize in the “Facebook Lottery” or “Facebook Raffle”, both of which do not exist and never has. Again, criminals want your private and financial information to use your identity when making unauthorized purchases and to steal your money from your bank account.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
There are three steps you can take to avoid being scammed. Ask yourself the following:
- Did you participate in a lottery competition? If you did not buy a ticket, you cannot win in the lottery. Criminals will have you believe that you have been “randomly selected”, however this is not possible with all legitimate lottery companies.
- Does the lottery company exist? The name stated on the telephone or in the letter may “play around” with an original name, and this is usually the red flag. For example, “Millions Mega” is a spin-off from Mega Millions. Spelling errors are another factor to look out for in emails, messages, and letters.
- Think twice about the way you claim the prize. If you did purchase a ticket from the company which says you have won, always take a look at the originals – the actual ticket and the website where you purchased the ticket. The fine print will guide you as to how to collect winnings legitimately.
U.S. Mega Millions and Atlantic Lottery based in Canada warn about criminals using their names, or replica versions of their names, in order to trick people into thinking that they have won the lottery. Both these companies warn that if you have not purchased a ticket, they will not send a winning notification. Again, they also warn consumers to look out for spelling errors. Most importantly, a real company will never tell you to pay a fee before you can collect your prize.