10 most common scams: lottery fraud

Our latest blog on scams explains why you should never pay to collect a prize

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Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, lottery scams that often involve you paying out to receive your "winnings".

How does it work?
Have you ever received an email, a social networking message or a text telling you that you have won a lottery or prize draw that you didn't even know you had entered?

If you have, it's safe to assume that you have been targeted by fraudsters trying to either con you out of money by asking you to cover costs such as taxes, legal fees or banking charges so that you can collect your "winnings", or simply using the scam as a means of getting their hands on your personal details.

Those who respond with their personal - or in some cases even their bank - details often end up victims of identity fraud or straightforward bank account theft.

And those who send money in the hope of claiming the much larger prize never see their hard-earned cash again.

How can I avoid being caught out?
Generally speaking, you have to be in it to win it. So the best response to a message claiming you have won a competition or lottery you never entered is to ignore it completely.

Spanish, Canadian and Australian lotteries are among the most commonly cited by fraudsters, so you should be particularly wary if you are contacted about a lottery based in one of these countries.

Other signs that you are probably being targeted by fraudsters include messages the feature spelling or grammar mistakes and requests for a payment of any kind, while you should also be on your guard if you are asked to call a number beginning with '07'.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?
If you are contacted about a lottery or prize draw and suspect it is a scam, report it to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040) so that it can take action to track down the fraudsters behind it.

And if you have already responded to a message, you should break off all contact immediately and alert your bank if you have passed on your account details.

Finally, watch out for so-called fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters contact those who have already lost out, for example by sending money to claim a prize, claiming to be able to recoup their losses - for a fee.

Other common scams
1. Phishing
2. Car fraud
3. Ticket fraud
4. Boiler rooms
5. Auction websites
6. Money transfers
7. Vishing
8. Recruitment fraud
9. Mobile phone fraud

Victim of Lottery Scam Shares Her Story