Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Foreign Lotteries: A Good Bet That You Lose

Foreign lottery scams have been circulating for years. While these schemes were formerly associated with direct mail and telemarketing fraud, recent reports involve possible scams through your email account. No matter what foreign lottery is being "pitched," consumers are warned to avoid these lottery rip offs.

Typically, these foreign lottery scams represent that you are being contacted to make a claim for millions that you have already won or that you have been randomly selected from a pool of lottery players to share in the cash prize. Upon responding to one of these emails, you will receive a message suggesting that you only have a limited time to reply and that you will be responsible for certain costs associated with the delivery of your winnings such as taxes, custom fees, insurance or other delivery costs. These bogus solicitations may then request bank account or credit card numbers.

If you receive one of these foreign lottery notifications, remember first and foremost that it is illegal for a U.S. resident to participate in a foreign lottery. In addition, remember:

  • Never disclose information regarding your financial accounts or personal identifiable information such as your social security number or date of birth to any companies who you are not familiar with.
  • Legitimate lotteries do not award cash to individuals that did not purchase a ticket for the lottery.
  • You will never have to pay fees in advance to a legitimate lottery in order to claim your winnings. Taxes and custom fees would be your responsibility after receipt of your winnings. Delivery costs or insurance, if any, would be paid for by the lottery.
  • By participating in one of these bogus lottery scams you will certainly be placed on a "sucker list" and be targeted by similar fraudulent offers in the future.

If you still have questions about these lotteries or feel that you may have already been taken advantage of, contact the Office of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555.