With a huge “Mega Millions” lottery jackpot on the line this weekend, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York warns people to know that scammers could be around the corner trying to take advantage of the situation to trick people into thinking they are winners.
If free money seems too good to be true…
You can get the winning numbers online or from the TV. Scammers reach out to potential victims via email, telephone, and snail mail to “inform” them of a smaller prize. Lottery scams were among the Top Ten Scams of 2015 as reported to BBB Scam Tracker.
How the lottery scam works:
Scammers will target people, asking them to pay “taxes” or other fees before they can claim their “winnings.” Once payment is received, there is no prize and the scammers are nowhere to be found.
You have to play the lottery to win the lottery, don’t believe emails or calls saying you won!
In another version, a letter comes letting the person know they won a prize. Included is a check to cover the taxes on the winnings. The person is told to deposit that check into their bank account and then send the money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card, which can’t be traced. The lottery check is a fake. It bounces and we all know how the rest goes.
Tips to avoid a lottery scam:
Don’t pay up to claim your prize. In order to receive a prize, don’t pay money or buy products. Common red flags include a request to send money via wire, prepaid debit card, gift card or other unusual forms of payment.
Be wary of emails. You won’t get an email from a state-run lottery or sweepstakes company about a prize.
You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if someone says you are a winner for a contest you never entered.
Verify the details, but not by using the sources from scammers. Don’t use the phone number, email, address, or website the scammer gives you.
Check with BBB. Call or check out our Scam Tracker if you have concerns.