Tue, Apr 21, 2020 - 9:31 am

Lottery Scams & How to Play Lotto Safely

4 min read

Wherever there is money to be made, a scam is not far away. Most of us would like to think that we’d be able to recognise a scam or con, but technology and scam artists are changing quickly. It can be hard to tell what is real! Here are some easy ways to protect yourself and play lotto online safely.

How do lottery scams work?

Lottery scams generally reach you through email, text, a letter, a phone call, or social media such as Facebook. Typically, the sender will say they are a lottery representative or use an official-sounding name such as the International Lotto Commission or Facebook Lottery. They try to convince you that you are the winner of a lottery, competition, raffle or some kind of prize. They may even state that you must claim within a certain number of days or hours to claim your prize. This urgency is designed to distract you from whether it is legitimate or not.

Some scams work by asking you for personal information. You might be asked to verify your identity as a winner or send bank details so you can be paid. This then gives them plenty of information and they can use identity fraud to access your funds from your bank account. Other scams ask you to send payments for fees to claim the prize. You should never be asked to pay for your prize to be released. They may disguise their scam as processing fees, insurance costs, bank fees, courier fees, taxes, or any other fake charge. They may seem low but once you have paid you will be asked to pay more, or may even be locked into a subscription service, with the only option being a lengthy process of cancelling your account through your bank.

Is this message a lottery scam?

While every scam is different and new ones appear every day, these signs all point towards lottery scams.

- You don’t know or remember entering the lottery they are saying you have won. They might say you were chosen as a random winner. However, you must enter a ticket to be eligible to win any legitimate lottery.
- Emails are sent from free webmail addresses like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @hotmail.com.
- The message is addressed broadly (e.g. Dear Winner, Hello Friend) rather than your name.
- There is poor grammar and spelling. All registered Australian lottery operators and resellers are based in Australia with English speaking customer service.
- The message is urging you to act quickly or pushing for confidentiality in order to claim the prize.
- Website links look like they go to the official lottery website but change when hovered over.
- The website seems low quality, has pixelated logos, or only has a couple of pages.
- The message has directions on how to pay but no business or contact details.

How to protect yourself from lottery scams

- Remember the golden rule – you can’t win a competition you haven’t entered. Check your ticket at Lotto Results before continuing.
- Never give your personal details or financial information to anyone getting in touch out of the blue. Lottery officials will identify themselves and only contact you about tickets you have purchased.
- Never pay any fees or charges to claim a lotto prize. Australian lotteries will never ask you to send money to release your prize or charge you fees. You only ever need to pay for your entry.
- Never reply to an email or letter that seems to be a scam.
- Never click on links or attachments from a suspicious-looking email or text. There is a good chance it will contain a virus.
- Verify anything you are questioning by contacting lottery officials or doing a Google search. Websites such as reverseaustralia.com can help with checking suspicious phone numbers.
- Verify any wins by checking your ticket on Lotto Results or logging into your online lottery account.
- If in doubt, call the lottery officials using the details on their contact us page to confirm.
- Remember, if it seems too good to be true - it probably is!

What do I do if I have been the victim of a lotto scam?

If you have been targeted by lottery scammers, contact your local office of Fair Trading, Scamwatch, or the ACCC for help. If you have sent money or made a payment, you should also contact your bank.

Lottery officials will also help in advising what steps to take if you are unsure.

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