04 December 2009
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning people to beware of fake lottery scams. With one in three people (32 per cent) promised 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 is the start of a scam nightmare, leaving them people out of pocket or at risk of identity theft. Research shows that:
- Lottery scams cost the British public an estimated £260 million a year
- Approximately 140,000 adults fall victim to these scams a year
- Only six per cent of victims report it to authorities such as the police or trading standards,
- So far this year, the OFT-managed consumer advice service Consumer Direct received 4000 complaints about lottery scams
- Average loss is £1,900 per victim per year
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.
As part of the campaign, organisations across the UK such as Help The Aged and Co-operative Financial Services are helping to alert the public to these scammers. The OFT is also targeting 425,000 more likely to fall for such scams, offering tips and advice on how to spot a bogus lottery notification.
To help stop people falling foul of these lottery scams, the OFT, National Lottery operator Camelot and its regulator the National Lottery Commission provide the following advice:
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
- If it looks to good to be true it probably is.
Visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/lotteryscams for more information and tips or view the Office of Fair Trading campaign information.