If you ever get an email claiming that you’ve won an unexpected prize and need to pay some initial amount, just stop right there! It could be a lottery scam. Especially when you’ve won something you never participated in.
How these scams operate?
You will receive a notification that you’ve won a jackpot in a competition, sweepstake or lottery that you don’t remember entering. The scammers may contact you with an email, text, call or even social media. The prize is not always cash, it could be anything including a smartphone, TV, watch, camera, a trip abroad, or anything that people might be excited to win. The scammers will ask you to pay initial fees to claim your prize. These fees could be taxes, insurance costs, courier charges, etc. This fee is their main source of money.
Scammers continually practice and rehearse tricking people into paying them money. The scammer will almost always pressure you to respond quickly or risk missing out on the prize. This pressure deprives the victim enough time to confirm the validity of the offer. Scammers may ask you to keep the offer confidential for safety purposes when their real purpose is keeping you from seeking advice or further information from independent sources. They will also use the names of legitimate overseas lotteries so that if you do cursory research, you find seemingly genuine results. They will ask for the personal details and bank account details to send you the prize money. But be careful, they can use those details later to steal money from you. Sometimes they send a cheque or other financial instrument to make you believe that you are dealing with a legitimate lottery company.
Signs to look out for
1. Being notified about winning a competition you never entered. This notification may even seem to come from friends, family, acquaintances or other trusted source over text, email or social media.
2. You are told you won a piece of electronic equipment like smartphone, laptop or anything from a legitimate company even though you’ve never heard about any such competitions held by the company.
3. You are asked for an initial payment which could be couched as taxes, insurance costs, or courier charges to claim your prize.
4. A scammer may claim that your social media account or email address was chosen randomly for the prize money.
5. You observe that the notification stresses that the offer is 'legal' or 'legitimate', and has 'government approval'.
Precautions to take
- Don’t be afraid to let the “opportunity” pass.
- Legitimate lottery authorities never contact you personally. If anyone contacts you and asks for upfront payments, the chances are that they’re scammers.
- Beware of phone numbers with premium charges. Sending or even receiving texts from the lottery scammers can be expensive and is an indication to avoid them.
- Never send any details or money right away. Take your time to research and if you are pressured to take action right away then I suggest you pass on the opportunity right away. Click here to read more here.