Lottery, sweepstake or prize draw fraud happens after fraudsters contact you to tell you you’ve won a large sum of money in an international lottery, sweepstake or other prize draw.
You’re told via email, letter or through social networking that you have won a large amount of money on an overseas or online lottery. Spanish, Canadian, Australian and Facebook lotteries are among the most common.
So that you can process the payment of your winnings, it asks you to contact someone who claims to be an official at the lottery company. You are warned to keep your good luck a secret and, if you don’t respond quickly, you won’t be able to claim your winnings.
However, either the lottery doesn’t exist or you’ve been contacted by fraudsters misusing the name of a genuine lottery. But you can be sure there is no prize money for you to win.
If you respond to the fraudster, you’ll be asked to supply personal information and copies of official documents, such as your passport, as proof of identity. The fraudsters can then use this information to steal your identity.
Once you have provided your personal information, the fraudsters will ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so that they can release your non-existent winnings.
Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why your winnings can’t be paid out unless you make another payment. They’ll also give you reasons why the fees can’t be taken out of your winnings and have to be paid upfront.
The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details, saying they will pay your winnings directly into your bank account. But if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters will use them to empty your account.
Are you a victim of lottery fraud?
What should you do if you’re a victim of lottery fraud?
Protect yourself against lottery fraud
If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.