Are You Really The Lucky Lotto Scams Winner?

(Last Updated On: April 22, 2023)

Are You Really The Lucky Lotto Winner?

Spot The Lotto Or Sweepstakes Prize Scams

How Scams Work – A SCARS Insight

You’ve Won the Lotto!

Say you hear or read the words: “You’ve won the Lotto!” What will you do with your winnings?

Who wouldn’t be excited to win a prize, sweepstakes, or lottery (lotto)? But…did you actually win? And how do you know?

Sweepstakes, prize, and lottery frauds are among the top scams people report to the Federal Trade Commission and the sizes of the losses are similar to romance scams.

What Is A Lotto Scam?

A lotto (lottery) or sweepstakes scam is a type of financial fraud in which scammers (criminals) deceive victims by promising them a large sum of money in exchange for a small fee or personal information. The scammers often pretend to be representatives of a well-known lottery or sweepstakes company to appear legitimate.

Surprisingly, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic seem to be the world headquarters for this type of scam. But criminals from China to India to Brazil to Africa engage in these crimes too.

Types Of Lotto Scams

There are several common types of lottery scams that scammers use to deceive victims. Here are some of the most typical ones:

  • Advance fee scams: This is one of the most common lottery scams, where scammers tell victims that they have won a lottery but need to pay an advance fee to receive the winnings. The scammer may claim that the fee is for taxes, processing, or handling charges.
  • Fake check scams: In this type of scam, the scammer sends a check to the victim, claiming that it’s their lottery winnings. The check is usually for a large amount, and the scammer asks the victim to deposit the check and then send them a portion of the money back. However, the check is fake, and once the victim sends the money, they discover that the check has bounced.
  • Email and text message scams: Scammers send emails or text messages to victims, claiming that they have won a lottery. They ask the victim to reply to the message with their personal information or to click on a link that takes them to a fake website where they can enter their details.
  • International lottery scams: In these scams, scammers claim that the victim has won a foreign lottery and ask them to pay fees to claim the winnings. The scammer may also ask the victim to travel to a foreign country to collect the prize, but once they arrive, they find that there is no lottery and they have been scammed.
  • Winning number scams: In this type of scam, scammers call victims to tell them that they have won a lottery but need to provide their winning numbers to claim the prize. The scammer may then use the numbers to access the victim’s bank account or steal their identity.

How These Loto & Sweepstakes Scams Work:

The scam typically begins with an email, phone call, or letter informing the victim that they have won a large sum of money in a lottery or sweepstakes, even though they never entered it. The scammer will then ask the victim to pay a small fee, usually for taxes or administrative costs, in order to claim the prize. Alternatively, they may ask for personal information, such as bank account or credit card details, in order to process the winnings.

Once the victim pays the fee or provides their personal information, the scammers disappear and the victim never receives the promised winnings. In some cases, the scammers may even ask for more money or information, claiming that there are unexpected fees or complications.

If the scammers sent a fake check to the victim and they deposited it, usually sending a portion to the scammers afterward, the victim will then be liable for whatever they withdrew and sent to the scammers, plus bank fees. And this was a bad check, it is usually a violation of law too!

The Impact On Victims Of Lotto Scams

Remember, these scams usually start with a call or message that says you’re a winner. (obviously a lie.) They say to get the so-called prize you have to send money or click somewhere to give your information. Don’t. The most recent FTC data shows people reported losing $301 million to this type of fraud. That’s an average loss of $907 per person.

The impact on victims can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. They may lose a significant amount of money, and the personal information they provided may be used for further fraudulent activities. Victims may feel embarrassed or ashamed about falling for the scam, and it can damage their trust in others.

What To Know About Real Contests and Prizes

Plenty of contests are run by reputable marketers and non-profit organizations. But there are some things to know before you drop in a quick entry or follow instructions to claim a prize.

  • Real sweepstakes are free and by chance. It’s illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter or to increase your odds of winning.
  • Contest promoters might sell your information to advertisers. If you sign up for a contest or a drawing, you’re likely to get more promotional mail, telemarketing calls, or spam.
  • Contest promoters have to tell you certain things. If they call you, the law says they have to tell you that entering is free, what the prizes are and their value, the odds of winning, and how you’d redeem a prize.
  • Sweepstakes mailings must say you don’t have to pay to participate. They also can’t claim you’re a winner unless you’ve actually won a prize. And if they include a fake check in their mailing, it has to clearly say that it’s non-negotiable and has no cash value.

A special note about skills contests. A skills contest — where you do things like solve problems or answer questions correctly to earn prizes  can ask you to pay to play. But you might end up paying repeatedly, with each round getting more difficult and expensive, before you realize it’s impossible to win or just a scam. Skills contests can leave contestants with nothing to show for their money and effort.

Avoiding Lotto & Sweepstakes Scams

Remember there are also legitimate contests and prizes that follow the law and give real prizes. So how do you know the difference?

One question to consider is: did you enter the sweepstakes or play the lottery? If not, you absolutely didn’t win. And here are other ways to spot and avoid prize scams:

  • Don’t pay to get a prize. Real prizes are free. Anyone who asks you to pay a fee for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize, is a scammer. Stop and walk away.
  • Don’t give your financial information. There is absolutely no reason to ever give your bank account or credit card number to claim a prize. If anyone asks for it, it’s a scam.
  • Don’t give your personal information. Scammers hope you’ll click on links that will take your personal information or download malware on your device. Delete the message without clicking on the links and don’t respond.

Did You Pay A Scammer?

Did you pay with a credit card or debit card? Contact the company or bank that issued the credit card or debit card. Tell them it was a fraudulent charge. Ask them to reverse the transaction and give you your money back.
Did a scammer make an unauthorized transfer from your bank account? Contact your bank and tell them it was an unauthorized debit or withdrawal. Ask them to reverse the transaction and give you your money back.
Did you pay with a gift card? Contact the company that issued the gift card. Tell them it was used in a scam and ask them to refund your money. Keep the gift card itself, and the gift card receipt.
Did you send a wire transfer through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram? Contact the wire transfer company. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.
  • MoneyGram at 1-800-926-9400
  • Western Union at 1-800-448-1492
  • Ria (non-Walmart transfers) at 1-877-443-1399
  • Ria (Walmart2Walmart and Walmart2World transfers) at 1-855-355-2144
Did you send a wire transfer through your bank? Contact your bank and report the fraudulent transfer. Ask them to reverse the wire transfer and give you your money back.
Did you send money through a money transfer app? Report the fraudulent transaction to the company behind the money transfer app and ask them to reverse the payment. If you linked the app to a credit card or debit card, report the fraud to your credit card company or bank. Ask them to reverse the charge.
Did you pay with cryptocurrency? Cryptocurrency payments typically can be recovered but this will be done by your local police or the U.S. Secret Service.
Did you send cash? If you sent cash by U.S. mail, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and ask them to intercept the package. To learn more about this process, visit USPS Package Intercept: The Basics.

If you used another delivery service, contact them as soon as possible.

Now You Know!

Do not response to stranger phone calls or messages, especially about a lottery or sweepstakes!

Are You Really The Lucky Lotto Scams Winner? 1

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