You’ve Won! Then Again, Maybe Not…

Foreign lottery scam

Winning a lottery isn’t something that occurs often for somebody, but when the words “you’ve won” appear on a mail piece or are heard by a faceless person over the phone, a persons pulse tend to pick up the pace. When that eagerness and overwhelming sense of joy sets in, pause and take a deep breath. The win may not be everything it appears to be.

A foreign lottery scam will attempt to create excitement and a sense of urgency in a victim. It will lure the person in with the promise of a large sum of money, and will require a small sum in advance for fees and taxes. There’s only a small window of opportunity in which to claim a prize, and the victim will usually be asked to send the con artist money through a wire transfer or cash sent through the mail.

Several red flags alert the potential victim that the lottery win is a scam. First, unless you’ve specifically entered a foreign lottery, it’s almost impossible to have won a prize from one. Foreign countries aren’t in the habit of giving away money to random people in the Unites States. Second, a lottery win that requests money before you can receive the prize is probably a scam. No legitimate lottery should ask you to pay for fees and taxes up front before you receive the prize. Third, if you’re being pressured into sending money quickly before the opportunity expires, the request reeks of a scam. A legitimate lottery official won’t pressure you to send money immediately to avoid forfeiting your prize.

More than $42 million has been lost by Americans in the last three years to foreign lottery scams. Learn to recognize tell-tale signs that a lottery award is not what it appears to be by going to

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