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Lottery Scams

It is NOT possible to win a competition, lottery prize, raffle or sweepstake that you have not entered. If anyone contacts you about winning a lottery that you did NOT enter, then it is almost certain that you have been contacted by a scammer. Do not reply to any letters, emails, phone calls or messages. More importantly, NEVER send money or personal information to someone who you don't know!

Lottery scams have been around almost as long as lotteries themselves, and while players are becoming wise to many of the tricks and cons, fraudsters continue to develop new and inventive methods of siphoning money from their unsuspecting victims. The information on this page will help you spot a scam.

How Lottery Scams Work

The majority of lottery scams work by convincing the victim that they have won a prize in a lottery, raffle, sweepstake or competition. While the 'winner' (actually, the victim) is experiencing the initial euphoria of winning a big prize, the scammer gets to work detailing the 'fees' that need to be paid in order to claim the prize. Very often these will be presented as 'processing fees', 'administration charges' or payments to 'cover taxes' that are due on the prize.

The sums will often be quite modest to start with and so the target of the scam may not immediately be too concerned. Eventually, the scammers will demand more and more money for a prize that never appears, and doesn't actually exist, but the victim may keep sending money because they have invested both their money and their time without realising that they are being scammed. Genuine lotteries will never ask a winner to pay a fee before they collect their prize and any taxes on lottery winnings are paid to the government, NOT the lottery itself.

How to Spot a Scam – look out for one or more of these tell tale signs.

Types of Scams

Lottery scams are constantly evolving so that the fraudsters can stay one step ahead of their victims. Here are some of the most common types of lottery scams.

Where to Find Help

If you think that you have been a victim of a lottery scam, then you should report it immediately to your bank and your local police force. Speaking out can help prevent it from happening to others.

One of the best resources for victims of lottery scams is Action Fraud which is a service provided by the City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. They offer guidance and support to fraud victims and can be contacted on 0300 1223 2040.

While there are a number of 'free' lotteries around, they all require participants to register certain details – usually their name, phone number and perhaps their postcode. These lotteries do not randomly select 'winners' who have not registered.

Most of us are honest, as are the people we know, and so we can be very trusting if we are contacted out of the blue by someone who sounds sincere. Unfortunately scammers prey on the trusting nature of the vast majority of the public and exploit that trust. Although stories of pensioners losing their savings to scammers often make the news, people of all ages and demographics can fall prey to the tricks of a lottery fraudster. Simply remember these two golden rules to make sure that you don't become the scammer's next victim: