Winning the lottery is a dream come true for most Australians, and it’s this dream that can quickly turn into a nightmare if a shifty scammer attempts an “unexpected prize or lottery scam” to separate you from your hard-earned money.
These scams work by asking you to pay a fee to claim your prize or winnings from a competition or lottery you never entered.
You must be in the lottery to win it.
You will receive notification out of the blue that you have won a significant amount of money or a tremendous prize in a competition, lottery, or sweepstake that you probably don’t remember entering – and more than likely because you haven’t
The random contact may arrive by mail, telephone, email, text message or social media, and you don’t remember entering the competition or lottery. Moreover, if you haven’t entered a lottery or competition, you can’t win it
The prize you have ‘won’ could include a tropical holiday, a laptop, a smartphone, and even a significant cash win from an international lottery.
To claim your prize, the scammer will seek a fee payment. Scammers will often say these fees cover insurance costs, government taxes, bank fees or courier charges. The crooks make money by continually collecting these fees from you and stalling the payment of your winnings. It’s also worth noting that legitimate lotteries never require winners to pay collection fees.
The email, letter or text message will attempt to create a sense of urgency. The scammers will ask you to respond quickly to their communication or risk missing out. The contact may also urge you to keep your winnings private to help maintain security or stop other people from claiming your prize by mistake.
Scammers request this confidentiality to hopefully deter you from seeking further information or advice from independent sources such as the Federal Government’s Scamwatch website at www.scamwatch.gov.au. Any request to keep your winnings private should be a warning sign that your 'win' is too good to be true.
Lottery scams can use the names of legitimate overseas lotteries, so if you do some superficial research, the fraud will seem real. But don’t buy it.
Scratchie card scams.
Another variation of the lottery scam is a swindle that uses Instant Scratch-Its tickets, also called scratchies. A scratchie card scam will always have a winning ticket, with the most common ‘reward’ often a “second prize of $150,000”, according to Scamwatch. You may also receive a package in the mail which will commonly contain colourful travel brochures and several Instant Scratch-Its tickets.
The scratchie scam package may contain contact details for an overseas company and provide a web address for a fraudulent but professional-looking travel website. The travel packages may also fraudulently note honest travel and holiday providers.
Don’t hand over money or personal details.
Whether it’s a scratchie or lottery scam, the crooks may also ask you to provide personal details to prove you are the "winner", including your bank account details. Scammers use these details to exploit your identity and pinch any money you have in your bank account.
The scammers may sometimes send a cheque for part of your winnings as part of the swindle. This payment might be as much as a few thousand dollars of the total winnings. This part payment aims to dupe you into thinking the win is legitimate. Usually, the cheque will bounce, and you’ll never receive actual payments.
Social media-based lottery scams.
According to Scamwatch, crooks gain access to someone’s social media account and then contact their extended family members or friends and tell them that they have all won money.
The scammer then provides an email address to “the winners”, providing instructions about claiming their prize. An insidious version of the lottery scam, the social media heist uses the trust between family members and friends to succeed in stealing their money.
Protect yourself against lottery scams.
Apart from ignoring overtures from anyone telling you have won a competition or lottery you haven’t entered, there are several steps to help protect you against a lottery scam.
- Identify the contact by calling the relevant lottery organisation directly – find their contacts by either using a phone book or an online search. Be sure to avoid using the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
- Do an internet search for details of the competition, and in many cases, this will help you identify a scam.
- Never send money or share credit card or online account details or copies of personal documents unless you have verified the legitimacy of the organisation contacting you about the win.
- Take no notice of requests for payments of fees through money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, or cryptocurrency. Once payment is made to a scammer, it will almost be impossible for your financial institution to recover the funds.
Have you been scammed?
If you think you have provided your bank account or credit card details to a scammer or fallen foul of a lottery scam, contact us by phone between 8am and 6pm AEST/AEDT Monday to Friday on 1800 033 139 or by email at email@example.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Also, be sure to spread the word to your friends and family to protect them against lottery scams. Share this article using the buttons below.
Important note: This information is of a general nature and is not intended to be relied on by you as advice in any particular matter. You should contact us at Defence Bank to discuss how this information may apply to your circumstances.