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Lottery Scam Questions

A lottery scam is a type of advance-fee fraud which begins with an unexpected email notification that "You have won!" a large sum of money in a lottery. The recipient of the message — the target of the scam — is usually told to keep the notice secret, "due to a mix-up in some of the names and numbers," and to contact a "claims agent." After contacting the agent, the target of the lottery scam is usually asked to pay "processing fees" or "transfer charges" so that the winnings can be distributed. However, the so called winnings never arrive. Many email lottery scams use the names of legitimate lottery organizations or other legitimate corporations/companies, but this does not mean the legitimate organizations are involved with the scams.

Below are the most commonly asked lottery and sweepstake scam questions.

Is a sweepstakes winner required to pay money to accept a sweepstakes award or is this a sweepstake scam?

This is most likely a sweepstake scam. Sweepstakes scams happen very often, where sweepstakes that you do not even remember entering send you a 'winner's notice' but only ask that you send money ahead for 'taxes' or other matters. You would be safer disregarding it, or you could complain about it to the police and/or the local district attorney so they may launch their own investigation.

Is international lottery online a federal law violation or a lottery scam?

This too is most likely to be a scam. There is no legitimate international lottery because; it's prohibited by federal law. A person cannot win a contest that he did not enter. You would be wise to not send any money for these types of lotteries. You should also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center to report the lottery fraud.

Can a legal resident of the U. S. collect lottery winnings from the Australian lottery?

If you receive a letter or an email advising you that you have won a huge cash prize in an overseas lottery it is almost certainly a lottery fraud. This is especially true if you have never even bought a ticket for this lottery. To collect their winnings, consumers have to pay an up-front fee to arrange for the funds to be ‘cleared' and deposited into their bank account. Often, the initial request for advance payment is followed by demands for more money to cover unexpected expenses. These scams also require the consumer to provide extensive personal information and give a copy of their driver's license and passport to establish their identity. Giving this information can result in an identity theft which can be quite devastating. Because the scammers are overseas, there is virtually no way of recouping any of the money.

If someone was contacted by letter stating they had won a online lottery but the luxury tax needs to be paid prior to releasing the lottery winnings, is this a lottery fraud ?

In the US there are many taxes, income, capital gains, and property to name a few. If you have not entered a lottery or other winning game and were contacted about this “lottery winnings” out of the blue please be wary of sending any money to an unknown person or company. When someone "wins" something then the taxes are generally deducted from the winnings. No one generally has to pay out of pocket to get their prize.

What is a sweepstakes scam?

Any solicitation which requires that you send money in order to collect your winnings in a sweepstakes is normally a scam. Legitimate sweepstakes do not require you to put up any money if you win. Also, if you have never entered the sweepstakes and you get a notice that you have won, that also would be a sweepstakes scam. If you have already made a payment but your check has not yet cleared, you can and should stop payment. Also, contact your state Attorney General's Office. They may have a consumer fraud division which may be able to help you.

Lottery and sweepstake frauds and scams pollute our email inboxes daily. Many times unsuspecting victims fall prey to these lottery scams and send the scam money and personal information that could lead to other issues such as identity theft. Before replying to one of these types of emails, do your homework and make sure you do not fall prey to a lottery scam.
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