Lottery Fraud Costs Victims £1m

Criminals are experts at impersonating organisations and will mimic a number of well-known prize draws to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

Between April and October 2021, Britain's online crime portal Action Fraud received 629 reports of lottery fraud, with 89 per cent of reports mentioning well-known prize draws. Impersonation of People’s Postcode Lottery accounted for almost half (49 per cent) of all reports.

Often criminals will contact unsuspecting victims saying they have won a lottery or prize draw. The victim is then told to pay an advance fee in order to receive their winnings. In reality, the winnings are non-existent and it is an attempt to steal the victims money and or financial information.

“Remember, you can’t win a draw that you haven’t entered so if you’re contacted out of the blue claiming you’ve won a prize draw but can only access these winnings by paying an advance fee: stop and think as it’s likely to be a scam. This could protect you and your money,” said Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mullish, of the City of London Police 

Almost three quarters of victims (70 per cent) were aged over 50, with those aged over 65 accounting for 40 per cent of reports.

Over half of the reports (59 per cent) mentioned being contacted via telephone. Other methods of contact reported by victims included email (21 per cent) and postal letter (10 per cent). Almost have of victims (41 per cent) said they were asked to pay the advance fee to release the alleged winnings by purchasing gift cards and relaying codes to the fraudster.

  • Fraudsters use gift cards as a form of payment as they can be easily redeemed and sold on. These criminals also don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to share the serial code on the back of the card with them.
  • In other instances, victims reported being asked for personal and financial information in order to obtain their alleged winnings. Some victims reported providing their bank details thinking they would be sent a small payment to verify the account. In reality, criminals will use these details to steal the victims money.

Another version of unexpected prize scams involves scammers gaining access to someone’s social media account and contacting extended family members (aunts, cousins etc) and telling them that they have all won money. The scammer then provides an email address through which they will receive instructions on how to claim their prize.

This is a particularly insidious version of the scam as it uses the trust between family members to succeed in scamming people out of their money.

Action Fraud:      Scamwatch

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