Lottery Scams still find Targets

The British public would be shocked at just how much money is stolen from vulnerable and unaware people every year through lottery scams. Most would be extremely surprised that so many people are still falling victim to a scam that has been around and well publicized now for a decade. The scams have absolutely nothing to do with the actually lottery or any valid lottery around the world. It is even uncertain as to the exact figures of whom and how much as many people are too embarrassed to report that they have become victims to the scam.

The scam is well known to most and usually begins with a letter or email informing the recipient that they have won x amount of money from some lottery they will not have heard of. The scams usually ask for the notification to be kept confidential. The ‘winner’ will be asked to contact a claims agent who will confirm the win to them and it will all seem like they really have won a massive prize. The agent however will then ask for money to facilitate the claim, this will usually be for processing and bank transfer fees. Some of the scams will have a valid lottery name but many will not.

There are ways to easily spot one of these lottery scams and you can follow some simple rules.

  • If you haven’t bought a ticket then you will not have won! There are no such things as free draws where no tickets have been sold.
  • A real lottery would never ask you to pay any money in order to process your winning claim. It is actually illegal for a legitimate lottery to charge a fee in this manner. If they are asking you for money then they are not legitimate.
  • Check the email address of the sender. If it is coming from a free email account such as hotmail or gmail then it is a scam.

Heather Clayton, senior director of OFT’s consumer markets group, urged people to recognize the warning signs. “If a win looks too good to be true, then it probably is,” she said.

It is not surprising that people do feel a little embarrassed if they have fallen for one of these scams as they have been around for such a long time. It is a fact however that around 260 million pounds a year is stolen from members of the British public and each person loses on average 1,900 pounds.

Camelot is the official lottery of the UK and they have long been aware of this scam. Paul Jay gives wise advice that is you would never receive a call from them unless you had instigated the call. “If you haven’t purchased a ticket for the UK National Lottery, you won’t have won a prize – and we would urge players to treat letters, e-mails and phone calls telling you otherwise with absolute caution,” he said.

The British government plans to launch an awareness campaign to highlight that these scams are false and should not be entertained. New ‘scambuster’ teams are being set up to help individuals that have fallen prey to the lottery swindle.

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