Lottery scams come from dozens of countries and the scammers often pose as organizations that sound credible, such as the “Consumer Protection Bureau”.
Once the scammers have identified you as a target, they may employ high-pressure tactics to take advantage of you, including promising you a life of luxury, informing you that the winnings must be claimed immediately, harassing you with “urgent” or threatening phone calls and urging you not to tell anyone else about the winnings. Here’s how the scams work:
- Initial solicitations invite you to send in money to enter a lottery or to claim a prize.
- Typically, there is no lottery—there is just a criminal pocketing whatever money you send.
- Once you “play,” you will keep getting inundated with more offers to play.
- Eventually, you may be told you won a large cash prize, but you need to pay the taxes and fees upfront.
The bottom line is that it is illegal to play foreign lotteries in the United States, and most such lotteries are frauds. No legitimate sweepstakes require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize. You should never wire or send money to anyone, anywhere who says you've won a prize. Odds are, it's a scam. If you receive a lottery mailer, give it to your local postmaster.
If you believe you have been victimized by a lottery scam or wish to report suspicious activity, please file a report here. You may also wish to contact AARP Foundation ElderWatch by calling 1-800-222-4444, telephone option 2.