Posted: Thursday, Apr 30,2020 | Time: 08:07 am | Edited by: The Lottery Lab Staff
Did you get an e-mail claiming that you won a Prize?
Image Source - Colorado Lottery
Sounds Great? Well it's a Scam!
The Coronavirus outbreak is affecting millions of lives worldwide and has led most of us to stay indoors for our safety. While we are quarantined, we are spending most of our time on computers and social media. According to Statista, the average increase in social media usage in the USA due to the Coronavirus crisis is around 50%. These figures are quite significant but they also hint at our increased vulnerability. It is a time when many of us can experience financial hardships, criminals can try to take an advantage through misleading information and canny tactics.
Various US lotteries, including Michigan, Maine, South Carolina, and Texas, are working hard to warn players about the increasing number of scams amid Coronavirus. The scammers might contact you through phone, text, email, postal mail, or social media. In this sensitive situation, it is necessary that we protect our money and identity by not sharing our bank account number, social security numbers, and personal details.
“You have won the lottery!”,
But wait, Have I played one?
Learning we have won a lottery is something many of us dream of but surely we want to win after playing a legitimate lottery, and not as part of a scam. These criminals are always looking for ways to fool people and steal their money.
In phishing attacks, criminals trick people by asking them to share their personal information like credit card numbers and passwords. Victims of phishing receive malicious emails or text messages that are designed to ask for your personal information. They usually turn up as representing a person or organization that you trust. For example, the message may come from a bank, a colleague, a government office, or as in our case, a lottery official. As soon as you open the text, a message will require quick action at a website that is an imitation of a legitimate website. The website will further request your email and password credentials to steal information, sell your personal data, and purloin your bank accounts.
Image Source - Mega Millions
One example of this scam appeared in the name of the Mega Millions lottery.
The message will be unrequested. It will claim to be from a well-known organization such as Powerball, Mega Millions, or any other known lottery. It also promises money from a game or contest you did not even play. Most importantly the message encourages you to take action secretly and asks you to keep the winning confidential. At times these messages also ask for money in the name of taxes, processing fees, or even account setup.
Now, as many of us are spending time on computers, criminals are utilizing the COVID-19 pandemic to send these types of baiting emails and links. Some people are more prone to follow such links these days even if they might have ignored the messages in the past. As you are working from home, you may receive emails that imitate your trusted colleagues or boss or any organization, and you may easily fall prey to the fraud. Additionally, while working from home, your computer may not by keeping up with security updates. This might result in exposing your professional connections and opening you to phish. Since social distancing is being practiced, the scammers can easily convince people to not disclose the “win” to anyone.
This scam is much more of a fraudulent pitch rather than a criminal bait. These pitches involve selling a piece of information that will “guarantee” your win. Usually this offer is not made directly. Instead, the scammers create fake testimonials on social media. In these testimonials, the criminals pretend to be a lottery winner who used services by someone offering either a mathematical solution or mystical powers which led to their win. Such false testimonials encourage the players to resort to these services to “guarantee” their win. When contacted these con artists charge a hefty fee for their services. In rare situations these criminals can steal your personal data also.
Almost every lottery winner plans to do something good with their newfound wealth. Con artists create fake social media accounts of big winners and ask people to follow them and retweet their messages up to a set target for a sum of money. One example is Shane Missler who became a multi-millionaire overnight and posted a Facebook status as a general reaction. But soon he got hijacked by scam artists. Shortly after his win, a tweet went viral saying that Shane would give $5,000 to the first 50,000 people to retweet his message. These scams just tend to offer something for nothing. Such scams should be ignored and reported as soon as possible for the safety of the winner as well as the public.
In these pandemic situations, people are actually spending a lot of time on social media which makes them more vulnerable to such social media posts. So, it’s best to ignore and report such posts and even warn your friends and family so that nobody falls prey to such messages.
Image Source - Play USA Lottery
This scam targets lottery winners of small prizes. This scam consists of scammers stealing the winning ticket and claiming it as their own prize. This scam mostly involves around clerks working at the convenience stores. As lottery players, you visit the clerk to check if your ticket is a winner. But these clerks can fool you by exchanging your ticket to a losing one or simply tell you that you didn’t have a winner. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, people may not want to leave their house and get their tickets checked so they may send someone else or contact a clerk directly to check if they won. This runs the risk that they may get scammed quite easily.
Image Source - Giant Lottos
In ticket tampering, scammers target random individuals. Criminals manufacture a ticket that is a replication of a winning ticket by modifying the numbers. Then they convince someone to buy this ticket from them. This often takes place on the terms that the winner is not in the country legally and therefore is afraid to deal with the lottery authorities or the winner does not want to disclose the winnings to his wife. Once the victim is convinced to engage in the transaction, the criminal recommends that they split in the prize in advance. The moment the criminal has the cash, the victim is left with nothing.
Our current critical situation is likely to boost such scams because people are afraid of coming out of their houses and need money. So people who are both gullible and not afraid to go out in public might get caught in such offers.
Image Source - Hot 107.3 Jamz
This scam is more of a white-collar crime, wherein criminals portray themselves as clever advisors. Anyone who wins the lottery faces taxes. But there are some people who resist paying taxes and criminals take advantage of their resistance. These scammers offer to purchase the winning ticket for a discounted amount that is more than the lottery winner would have received if they had paid taxes. The criminal then claims the ticket as their own and doesn’t pay taxes. This can make them stand out for claiming large gambling losses or never claiming the winnings at all. This process can result in the original winner being charged with tax evasion as they did not pay any taxes on the sale of their ticket.
This scam may increase in popularity during the pandemic because many of us want to save money and we may unknowingly fall prey to discounting scams.
Image Source - Business Insider
Lotteries have been around for years and so have these scams. These scams cost their victims millions and cause suffering to gullible victims. But the good news is that these scams haven’t really changed much over time. So, it’s actually easy for you to spot them if you have some knowledge about lottery scams.
According to warning reports issued by Better Bureau of South Central Louisiana, they have received complaints in the midst of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic about scam calls to senior citizens claiming that they have won the lottery. According to a press release by BBB, they have been receiving inquiries and calls on lottery scams to senior citizens in specified areas where they are informed that they’ll be receiving a check in the mail for $7850 and a letter which states that they have won an international lottery.
The BBB has been warning consumers since then to not fall prey to any even if they are in a dire need of money. It has been advising people to know that if they receive a check saying that they have won the lottery, know for sure that it is a scam and that check is bogus. What the scammers plan to do is that they urge you to call them after reading such alluring messages and will give you instructions on how to deposit the check and indulge into forged means to have the money.
BBB has also issued some tips on how to spot this particular scam and not fall prey to any of this amid pandemic conditions.
➤ Don’t pay any fees to claim a prize. No legitimate company will ever ask you to pay a fee or instigate you to buy something to increase your odds of winning.
➤ You’ve got to be in the game to win it. Any notification concerning a lottery win should be considered a red flag if you haven’t played any.
➤ Be suspicious of any unusual communication.
➤ Check with bank representatives for proper authentication.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created havoc all around the world, so we highly advise you to be alert for such malicious scams. The majority of lotteries have ceased operation of their claim centers for your safety. It’s highly recommended that you mail your winning details to the respective lottery or wait for the lockdown to be lifted and then present your winning ticket if your respective state lottery allows.
Read about tips to avoid lottery scams, to protect your winnings from such malicious scams!
Stay Indoors, Stay Safe, Stay Calm, and Don’t Fall Prey to Scams!