Whenever you receive a phone call, an email, or an SMS telling you that you have won a big prize in an international lottery, be cautious. Nowadays, lottery scams are widespread. Lottery scams details are different, but some of the common information includes:
- The day and where the drawing took place
- The ticket numbers
- The name of sponsoring organization (at times, they use the name of an existing brand)
- The payer’s fax and phone numbers
- The amount won
Do not fall victim to these scams!
How Lottery Scams Operate
These scammers will call you or send an email claiming that you have won and they want to verify your identity so that they can process your prize. They will ask you to provide your personal information, banking details, and copies of your driving license or passport. If you give them these details, they will have enough information to steal your identity.
Mostly the fraudsters will send you a check to pay for the processing fees. They will then ask you to deposit the check to their account and then use MoneyGram or wire transfer or Western Union to return a significant portion to them. Later on, the scammers will ask you to pay some kind of advance fee to cater for administration, legal, or delivery fee. However, always remember that no legitimate lottery will request you to pay taxes and fees to claim your prize. The government receives the taxes and not the lottery firm itself. They do not have costs of any kind.
Sometimes, the fraudsters can give you the option of opening an account with a specific “bank” instead of paying the advance fees. The fake bank will ask for an initial deposit as one of the requirements for opening an account.
These scams do not happen on the internet only. In fact, according to Federal Trade Commission, some people report having received such information through a phone call or a letter.
What You Should Do After Receiving a Lottery Scam Email
In case you get one of these scam emails, it is critical that you do not respond to it at all and do not open any links found on that email. The scammers are most likely to act upon any feedback they receive since they see these people as potential victims, and responding makes you one. After all, participating in a foreign lottery violates federal law.
However, if you have responded to the emails, stop communicating with them immediately. However, if you have already shared your financial details, you might become a victim of identity theft. So, ensure you report your credit and debit card information as stolen to your bank or credit union. Also, write to the three main credit bureaus and request them to put a fraud alert on the accounts you shared information.