Scams & Advice
Large sums of money can and do attract unsolicited attention (and undesirable people). Lottery games are not exempt from this, and scammers tend to use the excitement of a potential big win to help their case when taking advantage of people.
If you have received an odd-looking email, text or phone call (these are the most popular channels through which scammers operate), take a look at the following information to see what to do about it. Bear in mind that this list of channels is not exhaustive, so be wary when using any online media.
The most important point to remember when receive correspondence that looks like a scam is: if you did not purchase a lottery ticket, you have not won a lottery prize. This point usually disqualifies the majority of correspondences people receive.
Common Scam Characteristics
If you regularly play a lottery game, check out the following red flags of typical lottery scams:
- Requesting bank details: if a message you receive asks you to provide bank details, or pay an upfront fee, you can be confident it’s a scam. No official lottery operator asks you to make a payment to receive your prize.
- Specific prize amount: official lottery operators do not tell you the exact amount of money you have won if you win. It is your responsibility to contact them to find out. Scammers often try to excite you with big numbers to prevent you from thinking clearly.
- Dubious contact details: if you are unsure about a message you have received, scrutinise the sender’s details. Email addresses will normally be appended with the website’s URL, you can check to see if an operator is verified on social media and you can search for the lottery’s official phone numbers online. If these elements don’t add up, it’s likely not to be a trustworthy source.
- Poor spelling/grammar: numerous spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes are sure-fire ways of recognising a scam attempt. Official companies do their utmost to ensure their professionalism travels through all of their correspondences, so if a message you receive is poorly written, it is likely an attempted scam.
- Sense of urgency: although lottery prizes do have deadlines, these are often quite generous, and no official lottery operator will want to make you feel rushed when dealing with a potentially life-changing amount of money. Scammers, on the other hand, will mention very short claim periods to encourage you to make a rash and potentially harmful decision.
The list above is not exhaustive, but it should offer a comprehensive idea of what to look out for when dealing with potentially harmful correspondences.
Things to Avoid
If you think you have encountered an attempted lottery scam, consider these following instructions:
- Do not respond: avoid prolonging the issue, simply delete the message and block its sender
- Do not send money or disclose personal information: you do not need to pay to withdraw lottery prizes, and if you have an online account with an official lottery operator, they will already have such details
- Do not click any hyperlinks or download attachments: hyperlinks can take you to a phishing website and attachments may contain viruses.
- Report the incident: to a local and relevant cyber-crime organisation.
For peace of mind, you might consider contacting the official lottery operator of the game you play to question the authenticity of the message you have received. They will likely clarify why it is not a genuine correspondence and also provide you with more information about staying safe online.
As lottery scams evolve regularly, the best advice is to stay vigilant when dealing with unexpected messages and not to act impulsively. More often than not, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.