The lottery. You’ve been playing it for years, week after week, waiting for your turn to come up. Waiting to hear those words “Congratulations! You have won a Lottery”, But with the exception of the handful of times it paid out 10 and 20 dollars, nothing has really come your way. Nobody has uttered those words, “Congratulations! You have won a Lottery”, and actually been A: talking to you or B: Serious! You’re not really surprised, though, since you are well aware of how probability is working against you in these games. It’s about as likely to happen as to get struck by a meteor, and that probability doesn’t make us wear protective helmets, does it?
Then, one day, when you open your mail account, it’s there. “Congratulations! You have won a Lottery” A big prize, too! You didn’t even know you were playing in this particular lottery, but the mail says you won. And all you have to do is to contact the Claims Agent, who will guide you through the process of getting your winnings paid into your bank account. It will cost you a small fee, but hey – you just won a fortune!
Wrong. You didn’t just win a fortune. You are getting scammed. There will be more fees and more and more and more, until you’re bled dry. You are not dealing with a lottery or a claims agent, you are dealing with a band of criminals, and they have found their golden goose – you.
The lottery scam is one of the most common 419 scam formats, if not THE most common format. Lottery scams comes in all colours and shapes – the scammers leeches on various real lotteries, but also on multinational brands like Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, BBC, and of course Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. Even the United Nations seems to have a whole range of lotteries, if one are to believe the mails that hits most spam filters worldwide on a daily basis. But you shouldn’t believe them, because none of it is real.
First of all, and most importantly – you cannot win a lottery you have not entered! It’s as simple as that. And no, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and that includes multinational companies giving away large sums in prize money in drawings you don’t even have to enter. If they did, they wouldn’t be a multinational company for very long.
Secondly, in most jurisdictions, it is not legal to register personal data of individuals without their consent. And even with their consent, there is a strict rules for what you can and can’t use the data for, how long you can keep it, and how it is to be kept. Note, that these scammers always will ask for your personal information in order for you to claim the winnings. But if they know you won – why don’t they already have your information already? If confronted with this, they will always reply that it is your email address that was drawn. But that means they have registered your mail address without your consent. That is not how multinational companies operates.
Thirdly, there is the “Claims Agent”. Ever heard of such a fella? No? That’s because there is no such thing as a “Claims Agent”. It’s an invention of the scammers, made as an expense you will need to cover in order to get the cash and retire to Barbados. “Claims Agents” don’t exists – they’re are just a part of the lottery fantasy, and a giveaway that the mail you are reading is indeed a scam.
The people that run lotteries, runs it to generate a profit, no matter whether it’s a national lottery, a lottery for a noble purpose, a promotional lottery for a company, or even a bingo event at the local sports club. Nobody gives away large sums of money to random people. As the worn but ever so relevant phrase says: if it sounds to good to be true, it’s because it is to good to be true. And email lotteries are to good to be true. They are scams.