With a promise of cash winnings and visions of a millionaire lifestyle, receiving a letter, email or telephone call about a supposed lottery win can seem like a dream come true. But for many, it can be the start of a scam nightmare, leaving people out of pocket or at risk of identity theft as a new Office of Fair Trading campaign is warning.
Councillor John R Jones, who leads on Trading Standards matters on Gwynedd Council said:
“With people looking forward to Christmas, we are urging Gwynedd residents not to fall for these lottery scams, and to take care when they receive unexpected news of a big win.
“Indeed, the simple adage – If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is – is always the best advice.”
So far this year, the Office of Fair Trading-managed consumer advice service Consumer Direct has received 4,000 complaints about lottery scams.
Often masquerading as legitimate lottery operators such as the Spanish El Gordo or our own National Lottery, people receive information about their ‘win’ out of the blue, telling them that they have won a major cash prize in a lottery or sweepstake.
The scam unfolds as the company asks for ‘administration fees’ to handle the win, or for the ‘winner’ to send personal details to confirm their identity to receive the prize. The winnings do not exist and are never received.
To help people not to fall foul of lottery scams, the Office of Fair Trading campaign are offering the follow top tips:
- Ask yourself: how can I win a lottery prize if I haven’t bought a ticket?
- Never send money upfront to claim a lottery prize. The National Lottery and other genuine lotteries will never ask you to pay fees or taxes before claiming your winnings
- Never reveal your credit card or bank account details unless you’re sure who you are dealing with
- Tell your friends and family if you think a letter or email might be a scam
- The National Lottery never tells winners how much they’ve won in an email, if it includes a value it is bogus
Visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/lotteryscams for more information and tips.
Heather Clayton, Senior Director, Office of Fair Trading Consumer Markets Group, said:
“Lottery scams are a serious issue affecting 140,000 adults in the UK each year which is why we want people to recognise the warning signs. Remember that if a win looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Speaking about lottery scams, Paul Jay, Camelot’s Head of Information Security, added:
“We never advise players that they have won a prize via an unsolicited letter, email or telephone call and we never ask for up-front fees or personal information. If you haven’t purchased a ticket for The UK National Lottery, you won’t have won a prize – and we would urge players to treat letters, emails and phone calls telling you otherwise with absolute caution.”
Members of the public who wish to report a suspected lottery scam should contact Consumer Direct Wales on 08454 04 05 06 or go to: www.consumerdirect.gov.uk