Posted on 4th September 2014
Derbyshire detectives are issuing advice to help protect residents from falling victim to lottery and prize draw scams.
The scam begins when fraudsters contact a victim through email or letter to inform them that they have won a large amount of money in an online or overseas lottery draw. However, this prize does not exist.
The victim is asked to keep their winnings a secret and to contact the fraudster who claims to be an official at a lottery company.
They then use this lottery scam to gain personal information, banking details and copies of official documents from the victim such as a passport, for proof of identity. This information can also be used to steal the victim’s identity and to empty their bank account.
The fraudsters will then ask the victim to pay various fees such as legal costs, banking fees or taxes, so that the non-existent winnings can be released. Each time a payment is made by the victim, the fraudster will give more reasons why the winnings cannot be paid out unless further payment is made.
Detective Constable Julie Wheeldon from the East Midlands Fraud and Financial Investigation Unit said: “Lottery or prize draw scams can see victims losing a large amount of money by paying out to the fraudster to claim their prize.
“Thankfully there are simple steps which can be taken to protect yourself from becoming a victim to this fraud.
“Official lotteries will not contact you to tell you of your win so please remember, if you haven’t entered a lottery or prize draw then you couldn’t have won it. Also, genuine lotteries encourage publicity so if they ask you to keep your big win a secret then it’s likely to be a fraud.”
Other advice includes:
Never disclose bank details or pay fees in advance. If you believe that your details have been compromised, contact your bank or building society straight away;
Be wary of email addresses such as @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com or telephone numbers beginning with 07 as these are free to get hold of;
Be suspicious of bad spelling and grammar as this is often an indication that fraudsters are behind this.
For information around frauds and scams visit the dedicated Stamp out Fraud in Derbyshire webpage at www.derbyshire.police.uk/stampoutfraud.
To report a fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit the website at: www.actionfraud.police.uk.