A fake lottery scam involves a fraudster, or a ring of criminals, misrepresenting themselves as a legitimate lottery company to con victims out of their information and money. Here’s all you need to know to protect yourself:
How the scams play out
In a fake lottery scam, a scammer will reach out to a potential target via phone, email or through social media platforms to inform them that they have won a large amount of cash, or major prizes, like a new car or other expensive goods. Alternatively, they may offer to let the target play a “free round” of lotto, which will miraculously result in an instant win.
To convince the target of their authenticity, the scammer may claim to represent a major lotto company, like Mega Millions, or another recognizable name. In some cases, they will pretend to represent a government agency, like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or an invented program like the “National Sweepstakes Organization”.
The scam will conclude with the fraudster asking the target to share personal information, and/or to pay fees for covering “processing costs”, which will supposedly allow the target to receive their prize. Of course, if information is shared, it will be used to commit identity theft, and if money is shared, it will never be seen again. Sadly, no sweepstakes or lottery has been won, either.
Watch out for these red flags, which can alert you to the likelihood of a fake lottery scam:
- A letter, email, popup window or social media message claiming you have won a lottery you’ve never entered.
- You are offered the opportunity to enter a lottery or sweepstakes at no cost.
- You are asked to share sensitive information over the phone or via email.
- You are asked to pay a fee to receive your prize.
- The area code of the scammer’s phone number is foreign.
- The email claiming you’ve won a prize is written poorly and has typos.
- You are instructed to keep your win confidential or risk losing your prize.
- The “lottery rep” offers to wire your winnings directly into your checking account.
- The caller offers to send you a check for more than you’ve allegedly won, and then asks you to send back the surplus via wire transfer or prepaid debit card.
Arm yourself with these protective measures and information to keep safe from fake lottery scams:
- Never share sensitive information with an unverified contact.
- Be aware that it’s illegal for U.S. citizens to play a foreign lottery.
- Don’t open emails or click on links from unverified contacts.
- Never wire money or pay via prepaid debit card to an unknown contact.
If you have been targeted
If you believe you are being targeted by a fake lottery scam, don’t engage further with the scammer. End the call or delete the email, and then block the number or mark the email address as spam. Report the scam to the FTC, and, if relevant, to the legitimate lottery company the scammers are spoofing. You can also report the scam to your local law enforcement agency. You should also let your family and friends know about the circulating scam so they know to be on guard.
To help protect yourself from fraudulent activity, make sure to utilize your Benefits Plus® checking account with SeaComm! Once you upgrade your basic checking to Benefits Plus®, you will gain access to a full range of fraud and identity-theft protection services, including fraud alerts, lost document recovery services, 90-day Purchase Protection, and much more. Click here for more information, or stop by your local SeaComm branch to enroll.
For complete information, terms, conditions and exclusions please visit www.benefits-plus.org or call 866-329-7587.
Stay informed with SeaComm’s Fraud Center. As your credit union, we want to keep you and your finances safe. That’s why we created our Fraud Center, which includes valuable resources to help educate and empower our members to protect their assets and identities. Click here to get started!