What Are Prize and Lottery Scams?
These scams are perpetrated by thieves who send you a notification by postal mail, email, or an unsolicited telephone call, which includes an announcement regarding winning a prize (often for a competition you didn’t enter). In order to “claim” the prize or winnings, you are told to “send” money to cover administrative costs.
Victims of lottery scams lose thousands of dollars responding to demands for payment to cover costs of redeeming prizes when, in all probability, the prize did not exist. Victims rarely, if ever, receive any winnings in return for their cash.
How to Spot Prize and Lottery Scams
- Protect yourself and your money. Look for any of the following elements in the prize or lottery notifications:
- The information advises that you have won a prize, but you did not enter any competition run by the contest promoters.
- The notification was sent by bulk mail, though it may be personally addressed by you. Thousands of other targets around the world may have received the same notification.
- The prize promoters ask you to pay a fee (for administration or “processing”) in advance.
- The notice contains an offer to buy shares in a fund that purports to purchase tickets in legitimate overseas lotteries.
- The offer includes prizes or the opportunity to purchase “exclusive items” (If these items are real, they are often substandard, overpriced, or falsely represented).
- The notice informs you claiming the prize might require travel overseas at your own cost.
The cross-border purchase or sale of lottery tickets is a violation of U.S. law. Since these scams are generally operated outside of the United States, victims have very little recourse to recover losses.