Who’s the target?
Mostly older adults.
How does it happen?
You receive an unsolicited phone call, email, letter, or direct message claiming that you have won a contest or lottery. You might not remember entering this drawing, but the scammer will ensure you that you were automatically entered, or someone else entered on your behalf. They may claim to be from a foreign lottery, or even a trusted organization like the Publishers Clearing House. The scammer will tell you that in order to receive the prize, you first need to pay. If you question or delay the payment, they will increase the pressure and threaten you with legal or financial consequences. Once you send them the funds, they can disappear altogether, or continue to request more fees until you run out of money.
- They’re telling you that you need to pay to get your prize, often in the form of wire, gift cards, or cryptocurrency
- They say they’re from a government organization, or an overseas lottery
- They’re requesting your financial information like your credit card or bank account details
How can we stay safe?
- If it sounds too good to be true, it often isn’t true
- Remember that legitimate prizes are free, and do not require payment upfront
- Never send payment in gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire to anyone you don’t know, even if they claim to be a legitimate organization
If you think you have been scammed:
- Contact your financial institutions as soon as possible
- If you’ve given the scammer any of your account passwords or PINs, change them immediately
- File a report on FTC.gov
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline (if applicable)