Foreign Lottery Scams
Whether they claim to be from Spain, Ireland, Greece, or any other country, "winning" notices from foreign lotteries, arriving unexpectedly by mail or email, promise people huge prizes or lump sum payments. However, in 100% of the cases, these notices are just scams, and recipients should throw them out, and not respond in any way.
No matter how it’s presented, if something sounds too good to be true, it’s not true.
When supposed sweepstakes or foreign lotteries offer great prizes, trips, or large sums of cash, watch for the catch -- the catch that requires you to pay money or give bank account information in order to get the prize. As people unfortunately learn, there is no prize – it’s another scheme playing on people’s hopes and innocence.
Victims are told that they need to pay some transfer fees or taxes, and that's why the payment is needed. Or, they may need to provide some bank account information. Sometimes the scammers actually send a check as part of the winning notice, and the victim is told to deposit it into his or her bank account and return some amount to cover the associated fees and taxes. These prize checks ultimately bounce, but the victim’s “payment” is gone forever – drawn from their own bank account.
Scammers acquire names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of potential victims via spyware and other tools, and through various trade journals, business directories, print advertisements, Chambers of Commerce -- anywhere that information appears on the Internet or in print. Common signs of a scam include:
You’re informed that you have won a prize - but you did not buy a ticket.
A “winning letter” is personally addressed to you but was sent by bulk mail - thousands of others around the world are receiving the exact same notification.
You’re informed that you have won a lottery prize and are asked for money up-front to release your “winnings.”
You’re informed that you have won a lottery prize and are asked for bank account, credit card, or social security number.
You’re informed that you have won a prize and are told you must comply with the terms immediately or the money will be given to someone else.
A legitimate lottery or sweepstakes does not require you to pay fees to collect your prize, and taxes are due only AFTER you receive the winnings.