Police are warning residents to be cautious if they receive a telephone call informing them they have won a lottery or prize draw.
There have been recent cases of this scam happening in South Yorkshire. As fraudsters move and change the geographical areas they operate in, all UK residents should also be vigilant about this type of fraud. Any UK resident who has lost money to a fraud like this should report it to Action Fraud.
How does the lottery scam work?
The victims receive a phone call congratulating them on winning the ‘big prize’. Before they can claim the prize, they are told they must send money to pay for taxes and processing fees. Once a victim has paid one fee, they are often asked to send further sums. The prize doesn’t exist, and the ‘winner’ never receives any winnings in return for their cash. Older people are often targeted by this scam and advised not to tell family and friends about their alleged ‘win’.
In a slightly different version of this scam, fraudsters have also been known to communicate with victims via email.
How to protect yourself from lottery fraud
South Yorkshire Police is advising people to follow some simple steps to help them spot lottery scams.
- Never respond to any such communication. If you haven’t entered a lottery then you can’t have won it. Official lotteries in other countries operate in much the same way as the UK’s National Lotto. No official lotteries that we know of contact people to tell them of their win.
- No official lottery operators will ask for fees to collect winnings. Any request for a fee payment is a good indication that someone is trying to defraud you.
- Never, ever disclose your bank details or pay fees in advance.
- Scammers may provide contact details to respond to. Be very suspicious of email addresses such as @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com or phone numbers beginning with 07 because these are free and easy to get hold of.
- Genuine lotteries thrive on publicity. If they ask you to keep your win a secret it’s likely to be a fraud.
- Many fraudulent lotteries have bad spelling and grammar – see this as a warning that fraudsters are at work.
What should you do if you’re a victim of lottery fraud?
- If you’ve lost money to a scam like those, report it to Action Fraud.
- If you have responded to a scam email, break off all contact with the fraudsters at once.
- If you have given the fraudsters your bank account details, alert your bank immediately.
- Be aware that you’re now likely to be a target for other fraudsters, as they often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached.
- People who have already fallen victim to fraudsters are particularly vulnerable to a scam know as fraud-recovery fraud. This is where people who have already lost money through fraud are contacted by people claiming to be law enforcement officers or lawyers. They advise the victim that they can help them recover their lost money – but request a fee.
Read more about lottery scams on the South Yorkshire Police website.
Please note: Action Fraud is not responsible for the content on external websites.
To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.