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Watch Out for Scammers Pretending to Be Lottery Winners

by Brett M. Christensen

A favourite scammer trick is to pretend that a recent lottery winner has decided to give away part of his or her winnings via the Internet.

Often, soon after a large lottery win is announced in the news, scammers will begin sending fake giveaway messages via social media, SMS, and email. The messages are supposedly sent by either the lottery winners themselves or “agents” working on their behalf.

The scammers often create fake social media profiles in the names of the lottery winners as a means of making their claims seem more legitimate. They will then distribute the giveaway scam posts via these bogus Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles.

To further advance the illusion of legitimacy, the scam messages may include links to genuine news reports about the lottery wins.

Supposedly, the generous lottery winners have decided to share some of their good fortune by distributing a portion of their prize money (usually hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars) to a select group of strangers who answer an email or text message or interact with a social media post.

Some of the scam messages are designed to trick victims into sending money directly to criminals. Others are designed to promote fraudulent social media profiles or pages and trick people into divulging their personal information on scam survey websites.

Advance Fee Scams

These versions of the lottery scams claim that your name or email address has been randomly selected as one of those eligible to receive a “donation” from the lottery winner. The messages ask you to contact the winner or a specified agent to claim your unexpected donation

But, if you do make contact, you will be told that you must send money in advance to facilitate the processing and transfer of your donation and cover various fees. The scammers will claim that these fees cannot be deducted from the donation itself and that you will forfeit the money if the fees are not quickly paid.

The scammers will continue to demand more and more fees until you realise that you are being scammed and stop sending money.  After the scam has run its course, the criminals will simply disappear and you will no longer be able to contact them. And, alas, you are very unlikely to ever get back any of the money that you sent.  Nor, of course, will you ever receive the promised funds, which the scammers never had to begin with. 
And, to add to your troubles, the criminals may be able to steal your identity using the personal and financial information you sent them during the course of the scam.

Here’s a typical example of one of the scam messages:

My name is Neil Trotter a recent winner of 107.9 Million Pounds in the EuroMillion Jackpot Draw. I have decided to donate part of my win to few persons around the globe and you are lucky to be one of them. I am willing to donate (One Million Pounds) to you as part of my effort to help alleviate poverty and with this you can carter for the less privileged ones in your society. I know it is surprising for you to have received this notification at this very time but, I believe this is the right time and I will be glad if you are willing to receive this donation and help out as well.Do get back to me quickly via email.

Best Regards,
Neil Trotter.

Like-Farming and Survey Scams

Other versions, which are commonly distributed via Facebook, claim that everybody who shares, likes, and comments on the post will receive a portion of the funds being given away by the lottery winner.  Here’s an example:

John and Lisa Robinson won the powerball Jackpot 1.5 Billion. And he’s giving everybody $50,000 who likes and shares this post! Note : Please like our page and will be winner.
Comment ‘Done’

These fraudulent posts are designed to promote the fake Facebook Pages to a much wider audience and substantially increase Page likes. Later scams distributed from the fake Pages will reach a considerably larger audience and thereby gain many new victims.

Alternatively, the Facebook Pages and their newly acquired likes may be sold on the black market to other scammers.

Some versions of the lottery giveaway scams also include links that lead to dodgy survey websites. Supposedly, users must visit the linked site, complete a survey, and provide their name and contact details before they will receive the promised donation.

But, any information supplied on the site will be shared with unscrupulous marketing companies who will subsequently inundate victims with unwanted emails, phone calls, text messages, and letters peddling a range of decidedly dodgy products and services.

Be Wary of ANY Lottery Giveaway Message

People who win large lottery prizes are often quite generous and may well give away substantial sums to charities and those less fortunate. But, it is vastly unlikely that even the most generous lottery winner would ever randomly distribute millions of dollars to total strangers via social media posts or email.

We can put that firmly in the “not going to happen” basket.

If you receive such a message, do not respond to it.

Further Reading

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,