Lottery scams are, perhaps, the most common type of fraud to be found across the internet.
Why though are such crimes committed?
The answer to that is obvious – the fraudsters behind lottery scams want money – your money.
These fraudsters send out thousands of emails on a daily basis to unsuspecting victims, hoping to get at least one interested person who will foolishly reply to them.
They will then lure their mark into their web of deceit by promising riches if only they pay the small fees required in order to have their winnings released.
As more fees are paid, more problems will arise, each needing a small payment to overcome.
When the victim realises that they have been duped and refuses to pay any more the fraudsters will disappear and will search out their next victim.
Of course not all lottery scammers are merely after your money – your personal information can be of great value to them too.
Credit card numbers, bank account information, social security numbers, etc all fetch a price on the black market.
Becoming a victim of identity theft could be far worse than getting duped by a lottery scam.
ARE LOTTERY SCAMS CONVINCING?
The people behind such scams have well-honed skills and know just what their victim is hoping they will say.
They are smart enough to impersonate well known or respected figures in order to give their claims an air of legitimacy.
Many of them will set up fake websites to take care of the banking as well as mimicking lottery and even government websites which they will use in order to convince their victims.
Lottery fraudsters do, in fact, invest a huge amount of time and money into their crimes and so they are always trying to improve their skills in order to maximise the return on their investements.
WHY DO THOSE BEHIND LOTTERY SCAMS ASK FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION?
If someone is foolish enough to reply to the lottery scam email that pops up in their inbox then there is a good chance that a follow up will request their personal information.
Typically this will only be used for falsifying paperwork that will be used to further dupe the victim into thinking that they really have won it big.
In some cases, however, the fraudsters will use the personal data they have acquired in order to commit further crimes based around identity theft.
Alternatively, some may sell that information onto other criminal contacts that they may have.
WHEN DO THE FRAUDSTERS ASK FOR MONEY?
Lottery scammers have learned that asking for money too early will blow their plans as some people will then figure out what is going on.
Instead what they will do is build up a level of rapport and trust by exchanging maybe 4 or 5 emails before mentioning that there are some costs which will need to be paid.
Legitimate lotteries will never ask for a fee before paying out the winnings but far too many people choose not to realise that until it is too late.
When the victim is required to pay banking fees, storage fees, insurance fees, shipping fees, anti-money-laundering or drug certificate fees then they are most definitely being scammed.
Should they actually receive documents or receipts for any fees that they do pay then they will be forgeries.
ARE ANY OF THESE LOTTERY EMAILS EVER TRUE?
Legitimate companies and organisations do not notify people that they have won a lottery they didn’t even enter.
Such emails do not come from the companies and countries that have been quoted in them but from shady internet cafes and boiler rooms.
Emails from the ‘organisers’ will come from free-to-use services such as those offered by hotmail and yahoo.
Such accounts are easily created and almost impossible to trace.
If the fraudsters contact their victims by phone then they will use pre-paid mobiles, once again to assure their anonymity.
I LOST MONEY IN A LOTTERY SCAM, CAN I GET IT BACK?
Lottery fraudsters are not, on the whole, stupid.
They will have covered their tracks and their will be next to no chance of ever finding them.
Even money that has been sent to them will be untraceable as they always use services such as Western Union.
Fraudsters generally make use of false identities to collect these funds from money wiring services.
Alternatively, they may pay a small fee to someone else to collect the money for them.
WHY AM I BEING INVITED TO TRAVEL TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY?
Some lottery fraudsters will try to entice their victims into meeting them in person.
This is usually in order to allow them to make their con look even more convincing.
The victim may be shown a trunk containing the money and even be taken to fraudulent banks, companies, etc. in order to lend credence to their scams.
Lottery fraudsters have been known to infiltrate banks in order to make use of actual banking documents and officials in order to assist in meeting and defrauding victims who travel to their countries.
Not only can these victims lose their money but they can also be kidnapped, assaulted and even murdered.
I’VE SEEN A LOTTERY WEBSITE SO IT MUST BE LEGIT, RIGHT?
Many fraudsters buy and register their own domain names and then pay webmasters to copy existing and legitimate lottery websites.
They will then use a contact form which routes directly to them in order to complete the illusion of a legitimate site and organisation.
Fraudsters also often create fraudulent banking websites, courier websites and simple lottery websites in order to defraud their victims.