Everyone loves to win money and the unexpected surprise of a boatload of cash can often lead people to forget all reason and let their guard down. It has unfortunately become a very common method of deception as these scams prey on people’s greed and desire to win money as well as the popularity of big lottery games worldwide.
There are a variety of methods the criminals will deploy when it comes to lottery scams. The alarm bells should start ringing when they ask you to pay some sort of fee in order to claim your prize or winnings from a competition or lottery you never entered. However the methodology remains the same for most of these scams no matter the communication method.
How The Email Lottery Scam Works
The email scam is one of the most common types of scams so we have provided a more detailed explanation here. You will receive notifications that you have won a lot of money, a fantastic prize in a competition, lottery or sweepstake that you don’t remember entering. The initial contact will arrive by letter, mail, telephone, email, text message or through social media. The prize you have ‘won’ could be anything from a tropical holiday to electronic equipment such as a laptop or a smartphone, or even money from an international lottery.
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Then in order to claim your prize, you will be asked to pay a fee. The Scammers will often say that these fees are for bank fees, courier charges, government taxes, or other admin fees. The scammers typically make their money by continually collecting these fees from you and stalling the payment of your winnings.
The email or text message you receive will ask you to respond quickly or risk missing out so they create a false sense of urgency. It may also urge you to keep your winnings private or confidential, to ‘maintain security’ or stop other people from getting your prize by mistake. Scammers do this to prevent you from seeking further information or advice from independent sources.
Even if the scammer does not ask you for money straight away, they may just try to keep the lines of communication open so they can gain your trust and then get access to personal or financial information in the future. Lottery scams will often use the names of legitimate overseas lotteries, so that even if you do some superficial research, the scam will appear to be real.
Other Lottery Scam Types
You may receive a letter stating that you have won a prize and are required to register your claim in order to receive the money. Postal scams are designed to look as authentic as possible, complete with official logos. You may be asked to call a telephone number to make your claim, or send the ‘claim form’ back to an address provided.
If you receive a call saying you have won a prize, it is most likely that the scammer will sound very professional and make you feel confident that the news is real. You will be asked to provide personal information such as name, address, date of birth, as well as your financial information such as a credit/debit card or bank account number. The common explanation for this, is that you need to pay a handling fee, your card can be used as proof of identity, or that the prize can be deposited directly into your account.
You may receive a text message stating that you are the winner of a random cash prize draw, mobile raffle, mobile lottery game, and that your number has been chosen to win a cash prize. This one is especially malicious, if you call the number provided you can expect high call fees, plus you may even get your phone hacked if you do respond. If you reply in any way, you may be enabling the scammers to access the information on your phone, SIM card or even data from websites you have visited.
Scammers can now send messages through social media platforms, probably informing you that your profile has been chosen in a random draw to win a ‘Facebook Lottery’. However, there has never been such a lottery on Facebook or any other social media platform.