Lottery Scams (online Lottery/Lotto Scams)
Victims are commonly notified by email (also by conventional mail or fax) that they
have won a prize in a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. The scam is usually based around
the demand for fees (taxes, customs duty, shipping, courier etc) that need to be paid before
the winnings are made available. Requests to 'take the fees out of the winnings' always get the
same response - "We cannot do that!".
Email lottery scams can often be identified simply by the
fact that the response email address is an obvious free email account (yahoo.com, netscape.net, hotmail.com etc).
To check if your Lottery Winning is a Fraud, Check your Lottery at Scamalot.com
What should I know?
Almost all the recent cases brought to our notice have involved the Advance Fee formula also favored by thousands of "Nigerian scam" schemes:
Victims typically are notified they have won, yet have to transfer fees or provide proof of their identity and/or details of their bank accounts
in order to access the "winnings". The names of the organizations running these operations change all the time, although many of the notifications
use similar wording.
The World Lottery Association
stresses the dangers of
responding to this type of correspondence. Even if no money is transferred to these organizations, simply providing an ID or bank account details
to an unknown party makes consumers vulnerable to identity theft and fraudulent use of their bank accounts.
Members of the World Lottery Association are state-operated or state-licensed lottery organizations that only sell their lottery products
within their respective jurisdictions. They never require winners to supply private banking information or pay fees of any kind to collect a prize.
Paying to Receive Winnings
Legitimate sweepstakes don't require prior payment or purchase to enter or improve the chances of winning. Nor do they require the payment of
"taxes" or "shipping and handling charges" in advance to receive a prize. Sponsors of legitimate contests identify themselves prominently,
while fraudulent promoters are more likely to downplay their identities. Legitimate promoters also provide an address or toll-free phone
numbers where consumers can request that their names be removed from their mailing or calling list.
Offshore ticket agents
Other organizations offer to purchase tickets for bona fide lotteries operating in other jurisdictions. Although many of these agents
advertise openly in reputable publications, the legality of their offers is highly dubious. Almost all state-regulated lotteries are
legally bound to operate only in their own jurisdictions, and they do not endorse or condone cross-border sales of any description.
Consumers deal with offshore ticket agents at their own risk and peril: There are no guarantees that bets will be placed or that any
winnings will be paid.
Before responding to a "prize notification" or purchasing tickets from an offshore lottery agent, consumers should bear in mind that
they will probably have no legal recourse if the operation turns out to be fraudulent.
If you receive a "prize notification" from a suspicious lottery:
- Don't respond to the emails
- Don't pay any money in advance to collect a prize
- Don't reveal your full identity
- Don't reveal your bank account number or credit card details
Playing a Foreign Lottery
For years, scam operators have used the telephone, direct mail and now email to entice U.S. consumers into buying chances in supposedly high-stakes foreign lotteries. Scam operators may never buy the lottery tickets on your behalf or may buy some tickets, but keep the "winnings" for themselves. If you're thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:
- Playing a foreign Lottery is against US law. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery: "If you play a foreign lottery . through the mail or over the telephone. you're violating federal law.".
- There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of getting any money back are slim to none.
- If you buy even one foreign lottery ticket, you can expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment "opportunities." Your name will be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudsters buy and sell.
- Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch. Once they get your account numbers, they may use them to commit identity theft.
Targets of Lottery Scams
California Super Lotto
The California Super Lotto is one of the most popular lottery draws in the United States, with jackpots starting at 7 Million Dollars, and having reached 193 Million Dollars in the past. The draw is held twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday, and the jackpot, if not claimed, is carried over to next week, allowing it to grow to huge numbers.
EuroMillions is a lottery game played weekly on Friday by millions of players from across Europe. The game has participants from nine countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. The prize pool is put together from stakes generated from each of the nine countries, and the main jackpot prize starts at 15 Million Euros. If the jackpot is not won during a specific week, the prize pool is 'carried over' to the following week. The record for a single winner is 115 Million Euros, and the highest jackpot ever was 183 Million Euros. These huge jackpots have turned the EuroMillions Lottery into one of the most lucrative and exciting lotteries in the world.
The MegaMillions is one of the biggest lottery drawings in the United States, with a huge multi-state audience. MegaMillions has a jackpot that starts at 12 Million Dollars, with additional prizes reaching up to 250,000 Dollars. The lottery can be played from 12 states at this stage, including: , Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesday and Friday nights at 11:00 p.m. eastern time by the Georgia Lottery in Atlanta.
If you feel you have been a victim of any of these schemes contact your local Law enforcement (High Tech Crimes Unit) office for assistance.
Powerball is considered the leading lottery game in the United States, currently played in 31 States, and operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL).
Powerball is a lotto game that combines a large jackpot and a regular cash game, and is held every Wednesday and Saturday night at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. The prizes include the jackpot, and include additional winners ranging from 3 Dollars to 200,000 Dollars (second place). Jackpots have reached over 200 Million Dollars in the past.