Scamwatch: postcode lottery fraud

Beware bogus letters claiming you have won big.

Worried woman reading letter

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, we look at a new lottery scam that involves being sent a bogus letter saying you have won a huge jackpot.

How does it work?

This latest lottery scam starts with a letter telling the recipient that he or she has won £425,000 in the People's Postcode Lottery, a legitimate organisation, after being "randomly selected by a computer ballot system from the Electoral Register".

However, the letter is sent by fraudsters who are waiting to answer calls from anyone tricked into believing they really have won the huge amount.

They ask for callers' bank details and offer to send the winnings out in cheque form if that request is refused.

Either way, the "winners" are told they must pay a 5% "commission" on the amount they have won - a common lottery scam trick designed to con people out of money.

How can I avoid being caught out?

Generally speaking, you have to be in it to win it. So it is best to ignore any message - letter, email or SMS - claiming you have won a competition or lottery you never entered.

A request for a payment of any kind is also a sure sign you are being targeted by fraudsters.

A spokesperson for the official People's Postcode Lottery said: "Legitimate lotteries, such as People's Postcode Lottery, will not under any circumstances request a payment in order to receive your 'winnings'.

"If you are at all suspicious, then contact our customer service team on 0808 1098 765."

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you are contacted about a lottery or prize draw scam, you should report it to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).

If you have already responded to a message, meanwhile, you should break off all contact immediately and alert your bank if you have passed on details that could be used to compromise your account.

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