How to recognize a lottery scam email

Here are some tips how to recognize a lottery scam email

Is it sound great? BEWARE! It’s a fraud.

What are lottery and prize scams?

These are notifications that advise people that they have won a prize (often for a competition or lottery they didn’t even enter).

The notification could arrive through the mail, by email or from an unsolicited telephone call.

Often based in the Netherlands, Canada and Nigeria. Scam operators are using the telephone and direct mail to entice U.S. (and other global) consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as Australia and Europe.

There are several different types of lottery scams:

  1. A lottery notifies you (email, mail or phone) that you won*, or
  2. They ask you go to a lottery website, or by phone or mail to “play” / buy a ticket, or
  3. They say you buy a “program” of “secrets” on how to win lotteries.
  4. They also use Green card (immigration VISA) lottery
  5. and of cousre, the Sweepstakes scams (Sweepstakes are not actually a lottery, but are often confused with them)

So first thing first, let’s discuss the first type, the fake lottery winning notification.  Click on the links above for the other types.

* Remember, no legitimate lottery will EVER notify you that you won.  They don’t work that way!

What is a Lottery?

Unlike Sweepstakes, a lottery is a promotional tool by which items of values or prizes are
awarded to members of the public by chance, but which (of course) requires some form of payment to
In other words, if you did not buy a ticket, YOU COULD NOT HAVE WON a lottery (and that’s reasonable enough) no matter what anyone tells you!

Lotteries in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain, and most developed countries, are ILLEGAL, except when conducted by states and other certain exempt licensed charitable organizations.

If you believe you have received a solicitation in the guise of a sweepstakes which is an illegal lottery, you should contact your local Post Office™ or state Attorney General’s consumer protection office

How does a lottery scam work?

Victims typically are notified they have won a lottery, yet have to pay transfer fees, taxes, documentary stamps or provide proof of their identity and/or details of their bank accounts or credit cards in order to receive the “winnings”. The names of these organizations change all the time (they just make up a new name when one is exposed as a fraud), although many of the notifications use similar pattern of wording.

Click here for a step-by-step description of how the scammers work their scams.

And if you want to see examples of the scam emails, click on the links in this page.

Here are some replies from scammers after victims replied to the lottery scam emails.

Here are key points for avoiding scam lotteries (take it as a guide):

1. You cannot win a legitimate lottery if you have not entered it or bought any ticket.

2. In almost all cases you must purchase a ticket to enter a legitimate lottery.

3. You never have to pay to collect winnings from a legitimate lottery. You pay taxes AFTER you  receive the winnings.  There are no other fees. No hidden fees whatsoever.

4. If you hold a winning lottery ticket, you notify the lottery (they do not notify you; not by email, not by phone, not by mail).

5. It is illegal under U.S. federal law to play ANY foreign lottery from the United States. Many other countries have similar laws.  for example, you must be a Spanish resident to play the El Gordo lottery.

6. Since scammers simply invent new names for their fake lottery scams, it is more accurate to say that if you do not see the lottery on the list of legitimate lotteries, it is probably a scam.

  1. It can’t be a legitimate lottery if it isn’t conducted by a government or government-authorized charitable organization.

Again, if you believe you have received a solicitation in the guise of a sweepstakes which is an illegal lottery, you should contact your local Post Offic or state Attorney General’s consumer protection office

But how did they get my name?

Names and addresses of potential victims are harvested by spyware, viruses and other tools. They obtained through various trade journals, business directories, magazine and newspaper advertisements, chambers of commerce, and anywhere your name appears on the internet (such as in chat rooms, forums, etc.). They could simply use a phonebook for your country, either online or the paper variety. They are really resourceful in terms of scamming.

There is a chance it came to a legal lottery isn’t it?

Remember, legitimate lotteries do NOT use email to notify their winners.  In almost ALL cases, it is up to the holder of the ticket to contact the lottery. And even if these were legitimate (a slim chance), these lottery solicitations violate U.S. law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail. And in the United States, if it isn’t run by a state government or authorized charitable organization, it can’t be a legitimate lottery!

How to spot a prize or lottery scam

  1. Check the name of the lottery or sweepstakes against  list of scammer names.
  2. Keep the following warning signs in mind:

If the prize or lottery notification has any of the following elements, we strongly suggest  do not ever respond to it:

  • The information advises that you have won a prize – but you did not enter any competition run by the prize promoters.
  • The mail may be personally addressed to you but it has been posted using bulk mail – thousands of others around the world may have received the exact same notification.
  • You are often asked for money up front to release your ‘win’.
    The prize promoters ask for a fee (for administration or “processing”) to be paid in advance.
  • You are asked for your bank account, credit card details or other confidential information
  • The caller is more excited than you or the stranger who phones wants to be your best friend
  • You are told you must reply straight away or the money will be given to someone else.
  • Other schemes pretend to be legitimate lotteries, or offer you the opportunity to buy shares in a fund that purports to purchase tickets in legitimate overseas lotteries.
  • The scheme offers bait prizes that, if they are real, are often substandard, over-priced, or falsely represented.  Or, as part of the prize you can purchase “exclusive items” which may also be over-priced or substandard.
  • To get your prize might require travel overseas at your own cost to receive it.
  • Click here to see examples of real scam emails
  • See this page for a list of names that the scammers have used.
  • This page has miscellaneous reports of Lottery, Sweepstakes and Promotions Scams from Consumers and Victims

Key Tips:

  1. You can’t win a prize in a lottery you haven’t bought or been given a ticket for.
  2. Legitimate lotteries don’t ask for funds in advance of paying out prize money.
  3. Never provide personal identity information to a company or person you do not know.

What Happens If I Contact Them?

If by chance you still contact them (even with this lot of warnings) just click here to see what happens.

Names of Scam / Fake / Fraud Lottery

Click here for the huge list of the names of the currently identified lottery scams companies


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