August 22, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 18

Public is warned about lottery scams

OLYMPIA – Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and officials from Washington’s Lottery are bringing the public’s attention to lottery scams. Individuals and groups are calling and emailing victims on a more regular basis with the goal of tricking people into thinking they’ve won a lottery prize.

The goal of lottery scammers is to convince victims to provide personal information or pay fake “processing fees” and “taxes” through a wire transfer or money order. In most cases if the scam is successful the money can’t be recovered due to the fact that parties living outside the United States conduct many lottery scams. It is very difficult to track these criminals and even more difficult to successfully prosecute them.

The most common type of lottery scam is conducted over email although websites and social media lottery scams such as messages through Facebook are becoming more prevalent. Telephone scams are also very common and criminals are calling victims from out of the country or using a disposable phone to announce a winning prize.

“Consumer protection is a top priority for the Attorney General’s Office,” Ferguson said in a news release. “Lottery scammers want to steal your personal information and money — don’t be duped. Washington’s Lottery will not collect personal information as part of the sales process.”

“For 31 years now, this agency has been able to provide support to some important state programs, while also introducing fun games and sparking peoples imagination,” Bill Hanson, director of Washington’s Lottery’ said. “We are committed to the responsible sale and play of our games and feel people should be aware that there are criminals trying to take advantage using lottery wins as the basis for a scam.”

There are a few things Washington’s Lottery wants the public to know about playing lottery games. First, play to win. The only way to win a prize from Washington’s Lottery is by purchasing a ticket from a licensed lottery retailer.

Second, Washington’s Lottery does not sell its products online. Any website that offers Washington’s Lottery products is doing so illegally.

Third, Washington’s Lottery does not collect personal information from its players as part of the sale process.

The only time Washington’s Lottery might contact someone directly is if they win a second chance prize. But again, they must have first bought a ticket – and a legitimate lottery employee will never ask for financial information over the phone.

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