How to stay informed and protected against the most common lottery scams.
What are lottery scams?
Lottery scams are designed to exploit people's natural excitement of winning money to mask the more sinister objective of stealing from them.
Why do they work?
The lottery scam is a classic distraction fraud with a lottery twist. Victims are so preoccupied with the thought of receiving a large amount of money, they let their guard down, giving the scammer the perfect opportunity to conduct their business, often without question.
How do lottery scams work?
Scammers contact their intended victims via email, telephone, mobile phone, or social media sites and tell them that they've won a lottery prize.
The aim of the scam is to defraud the victim of money through deception or false pretenses. Scammers get their victims to willingly send money to them or obtain the victim's personal and confidential information to access their bank accounts and/or obtain credit in the victim's name.
Why did we create this page?
Lottery fraud is cruel and ruthless, and we want to help to eradicate it. Lottery USA is contacted by several victims of lottery fraud every week—some in the process of being defrauded, others having already handed over money or personal data. The more we educate our visitors about the dangers of lottery fraud, the better chances we have of eradicating it.
Types of lottery scams
We have listed the five most prominent types of lottery scams below. However, it's important to remember that this list is not exhaustive, and the way scams are carried out can vary wildly. That said, the objective always remains the same—to defraud you.
1. Check scam
Intended victims are contacted and sent a bogus winner's check through the post. The scammer asks the victim to immediately send back some money to cover expenses, taxes, clearance funds, etc. It's only after the victim has sent their own money and tried to cash the check that they discover it is counterfeit and has bounced.
This scam relies on the time taken for banks to inform their customers that a check has bounced or is counterfeit. Always keep in mind that no official lottery will ask you for money in order to payout a prize.
2. Social media scam
Scammers target accounts on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. These scams operate in a similar manner to other lottery scams. Players should be vigilant as no genuine lottery would establish contact via social media.
3. Drip feed scam
The scammer slowly gleans personal information from the victim over a period of time until they have enough to take over the victim's bank account or apply for credit in their name. During the first contact, the scammer often informs their intended victim that they've won a prize and asks for their full name and address. Next, they may ask for the victim's date of birth and Social Security number (SSN), followed by their bank account details.
The scammer steadily builds up a file with everything they need to know to defraud the victim.
4. Phone scam
Another popular scamming tactic is to fool players into thinking they have won a prize but need to call a number to verify their claim. In this scam, victims are tricked into calling a premium rate number and encouraged to wait on hold to claim the prize. Then, scammers use all sorts of tactics to keep the victims on the line for as long as possible.
5. Tax and prize release fee scam
Similar to the check scam, users are approached and told that they've won a large lottery prize but need to pay a tax and/or release fee to claim it. The tax or release fee can be anything from $20 to well over $100. The victim will never see the lottery prize, let alone a return of the fee paid.
Common targets of lottery scams
Don't be naive in thinking only the elderly and vulnerable get targeted. Anyone can be a target for a lottery scam, and everyone should be vigilant.
Most victims of fraud end up wondering, "how did I fall for such an obvious scam?" Scammers are masters of social engineering and use a wide variety of psychological and emotional manipulation techniques to side track their victims into believing seemingly unbelievable stories.
Already a victim? You're not off the hook yet
Have you already fallen victim to a scam? It's likely you'll be contacted again. Those who have been victims of scams in the past should remain doubly vigilant-scammers often retarget previous victims as they are seen as easy prey.
Lottery USA Scams
As we are well known in the US lottery sector, scammers often use "Lottery USA" as their cover name. Rest assured that we would never contact you and ask for money or personal details to be sent over email. If someone has contacted you purporting to be a representative of Lottery USA, you should not hand over any personal information whatsoever and, instead, report it to us and the Federal Trade Commission.
Tips to prevent being the victim of a scam
- The golden rule-if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.
- If someone buys a lottery ticket for a particular lottery game and wins a prize, it is their responsibility to check if they have won and claim their winnings. No official lottery organization will contact the winners to let them know they have won other than via arranged notifications for those who play online.
- If you have been contacted via email and it seems genuine, you should first check your online lottery account for genuine wins.
- Simply put, if you did not enter a lottery, you cannot win a lottery prize. If someone says otherwise, it's highly likely you're being targeted.
- Monitor your consumer credit report for suspicious searches and activity. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for the same, and get your first report for free.
- Do not be taken in if someone says they are contacting you from a well-known brand associated with the lottery industry. Scammers often purport to be representatives of official lotteries such as Mega Millions or Powerball or sites such as Lottery USA, Lottery Post, United States Lottery Corps and even state lotteries.
- If you are in a jurisdiction that is outside the market area of the lottery or game mentioned as the source of the prize, then it's a scam. Real lotteries do not hold international sweepstakes, contests or awards.
- If caller ID is activated on your phone, check the area code when someone calls to tell you that you've won. A call from a foreign country is a red flag. Also, be aware that some scammers use technology that allows them to disguise their area code-it may look like they're calling from your state, but they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
- Be suspicious if an email contains misspellings or poor grammar, the text and logos are misaligned and of poor quality, or the person calling you uses poor English or is on a bad line.
- If you are told that you need to keep your win confidential, be suspicious. This is a big red flag, and you should immediately stop communicating with the person.
- No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money to collect a prize they have already won. If you have to pay a fee to collect your winnings, it's a scam.
- The mention of a real lottery name does not necessarily make the prize real. Someone may be using the lottery's name without permission or knowledge. Always contact the official lottery directly and confirm your win with them.
- Never give out personal information or send money to someone purporting to be from any lottery.
- If an individual contacts you and offers to directly wire the winnings to you, it's a scam. Do not give them your bank account or any other information.
- If you are told that you need to verify your prize by calling a certain number, that number may be part of the scam. Instead of calling it, you should look up the name of the lottery or organization on your own for its actual contact information.
- If you think someone on the phone is trying to scam you, hang up immediately. If you engage them in conversation, your name and contact information could end up on a list that's shared with other scammers.
- No genuine lottery will rush you. If you are unsure about anything, seek advice from a friend, a family member or the Federal Trade Commission.
Whom to contact
If you think you're in the process of being defrauded, immediately contact your local police, sheriff's office or state police. Then, contact your bank and inform them of the same.
If you would like to know more about lottery scams, the Federal Trade Commission has further information and resources.
If you come across a scam and would like to report it, you can do so here.