Congratulations! You've won the lottery!
That's wonderful! But, how have you won a lottery you don't remember entering? Who cares! It's a lot of money, right? Unfortunately, there's a catch...there's always a catch.
This is a variation of advance-fee fraud known as a lottery scam, and while they have been around for along time, there are no signs that criminals are moving away from them. According to information collected by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for the 2016 Internet Crime Report, there were over $21 million in losses categorized as lottery/sweepstakes reported in 2016 victimizing over 4,000 people.
I'm not talking about buying a $1 lottery ticket and taking a chance.
With lottery scams, the name basically says it all. There is nothing subtle about this kind of scam. Criminals obtain call lists consisting of thousands of names and phone numbers and blanket the list with calls announcing the person has won a lottery. They tell you that you can access your winnings after paying the necessary taxes and administration fees up front.
The person is often asked to provide credit card information, wire money to a specific bank account, or send a check to a specified location. Even after the initial request is met, victims are instructed to continue sending money, oftentimes ending in their bankruptcy.
Not surprisingly, the person's "winnings" are never received.
Be mindful of anyone telling you over the phone that you have won a lottery. Be distrustful if they ask for your account information or tell you that the taxes need to be paid up front. I know that you have heard this before, but, in the excitement of someone telling you that you have won a fortune, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that it probably isn't true.
Until next time.....