Smart Quiz: How Can You Tell a Winning Lottery Notification is Fake?
a: Processing Fee
b: Receive Check
c: Email Notification
d: Notified By Mail
Answer: Processing Fee
“CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’VE WON!”
Scammers contact their victims with claims that they’ve won a major prize, lottery, or sweepstakes. They will walk victims through the process of filling out some tax forms, and depositing the very real-looking check. After the scammer is confident their victim is feeling like a real winner, they’ll guide them to a final step of paying a reasonable sounding administration fee to conclude the tax filings or whatever official sounding story they come up with. The scammers are coaching, encouraging and friendly through the entire process, making victims feel like winners in more ways than one.
Once the check is deposited, the victim’s bank account will even reflect the winnings, but it can take up to a week or more for them to find out the prize check has actually bounced. The scammer will be long gone with the “administration fee” and the person who thought they’d won the lottery will end up having to pay the bank back any money they withdrew from the “winnings”.
Con artists have made seniors prime targets for sweepstakes and lottery scams because they are believed to have access to a significant amount of savings in their bank accounts. According to an FTC Annual Summary of Complaints Report, lottery and sweepstakes scams are the third most reported complaints.
In April 2017, police received a report of an elderly man who sent more that $230,000 to callers who said he won a lottery. After further investigation, the victim had actually sent a total of $825,000 with promises of receiving part of a $5 million lottery prize. It goes to show scammers are really good at making things look real.
How to Protect Yourself:
Love lottery and sweepstakes games? Following these tips is crucial to avoiding scams:
- Never give out personal or financial information in response to requests via mail, email, or phone call.
- Never pay money to anyone to receive your “winnings.”
- Only buy lottery tickets from authorized retailers.
- Never purchase a “winning” ticket from anyone. It’s either fake or already claimed.
- Always sign a lottery ticket immediately after purchase.
- Never purchase a lottery ticket from anyone outside of the country.
- Always read the fine print and contest rules.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. No legitimate game will require a winner to pay a fee to claim a prize. Stop all communication with potential scammers right away and immediately report your concerns to the authorities or the FTC.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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