Most of us will have seen them before, the scam emails that are supposedly from one or other of the lottery operators that are located all over the world. These messages claim that we have won a lot of money. Usually they mimic the details, logo and name of a legitimate lottery operator, like those who sell UK lottery tickets to buyers in foreign countries. Actually most of these senders are not linked in any way to the legal operators of lotteries. Mostly these mails come from people who operate a scam also known as advance fee fraud. Their aim is not to pay you winnings, even though that’s what they claim, but rather to get money from you.
So how does one avoid falling victim to these ruthless crooks and make sure that a notification of winnings is legitimate? There are a few ways to recognize a lottery scam and reduce your risk of being conned out of your hard earned money.
The first thing to remember is that you can’t win a competition that you didn’t enter. Obvious as this sounds people still get tricked like this. If you have never bought a ticket to a foreign lottery and you suddenly get an email stating you have won a large amount of money be immediately suspicious.
Another hallmark of lottery scams is the air of secrecy. Many of them ask you too keep your winnings a secret because of a mix up. They also use terms like email draws or claim the winnings are from draws where no tickets are sold. No legitimate lottery operates like this.
The next thing you will be asked to do is contact a claims agent. A real lottery will have a staff member contact you directly, they don’t use agents. If you do contact the so called agent you will be asked to pay them a sum of money. This is often explained as being for bank charges, processing fees, courier fees, to cover some form of authentication certificate or some other cost. This is an easy giveaway.
If you send money to these people its just about a given that you will never see it or hear from them ever again. A legitimate lottery will never ask you for money up front and anyway this is usually illegal. Any charges that do exist will be taken from the prize money before payout to you in the case of an official operator.
Another clue is the type of language used. Terms like Lottery Sweep Stake or Winning Notification are typically not used by legitimate operators, whether official lottery companies or for example other businesses like those that sell UK lottery tickets to non-UK residents.