How do Lottery Scams work. Here is what you need to know.

Do not fall for these common lottery scams.

Scammers (along with some psychologists) completely understand the idea that some people do not have the ability to deny themselves an opportunity to make a ton of money in a short amount of time.

And that is the primary reason why lottery scams are common as well as successful.

Of course, the details of each given scam keeps on changing but the general principle behind each given lottery scam is pretty much the same:

A scammer tells an unsuspecting person that he/she has managed to win a large sum of wealth as a result of winning a lottery.

From there, the process is fairly simple.

After scammers have told the person that he/she has won a huge sum of money, they then instruct him/her to send a small (relatively speaking) amount of money to cover various taxes in order to gain access to all the winnings.

You do not a genius sitting beside you to know that there is no money and no lottery.

And yes, you have not won anything really.

But just because you stumbled on this guide does not mean that scammers will stop doing whatever it is that they are doing.

They will continue to try to scam people with custom charges and administrative fees as long as people remain focused on the bigger prize.

On that note, the first thing you should probably know about a lot of these scams is that scammers like to conduct them in bulk.

Almost every day scammers send out letters, phone calls and emails to thousands of different people.

They do it because they know they do not have to hit a high success rate at such a volume in order to make big money.

Therefore, you need to do all the things that you are capable of doing to protect yourself from different kinds of scammers on the internet and out in the real world.

Common delivery methods that scammers love to use

As mentioned earlier as well, scammers have this tendency of using a variety of different methods to separate people from their hard-earned money.

To put it in simple words, lottery scams will come at you with different flavors.

And that is exactly why people find it so hard to identify them and stay away from them.

One type of lottery scam involves the ‘winner’ paying an advanced fee to the scammer.

That is pretty similar to the previously-top-of-the-charts Nigerian Prince scam.

Scammers usually change their tactics based on their target.

Moreover, they also change the story that they use to lure people into their traps based on their method of communication with the potential victim.

You also have to keep in mind that scammers are (more often than not) amateur but highly skilled psychologists.

These people usually have specialized study areas which allow them to first create relationships and then win trust from potential victims.

In the real world, it translates to scammers using different methods of attack on different types of people.

Mostly, it depends on the physical location of the potential victim rather than anything else like education or income.

But generally speaking, scammers may try to deceive you by claiming that you have the opportunity to receive a large sum of money from a lottery which was held in a different country.

Most of the time, the countries where the lottery took place at some imagined time go like,

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Britain
  • Spain
  • Rest of Europe
  • Jamaica

Our research shows that Jamaican mega lotteries are particularly popular these days.

There is also a scam that changes the story to some kind of heritage raffles.


Plenty of other kinds of scams have managed to make it to the headlines as well.

Scams via mail

In such a scam, the potential victim(that is, you) receive a neatly written letter via the mail.

The letter, as expected, claims that the potential victim has managed to win a pile of good old money via a lottery.

As with all such scams, the winnings are of course coming from a foreign region such as Europe and/or the UK.

Now, the thing you need to understand here is that scammers may have put a lot of effort into making their scam as believable as possible.

In that respect, do not be surprised if your letter includes a check which will supposedly get you all of your winnings.

Some of the instructions included in the check may also ask you to go ahead and deposit it immediately and then pay via wire transfer a small-ish administrative fee which the person sending the money has to pay to European tax authorities.

Needless to say, the check is as fake as it gets.

There are no winnings.

And there is no administration fee.

Of course, scammers are banking on you to not know this stuff.

And if a potential victim does not know how this scam works then he/she may not realize that the check is fake until days have passed or his/her bank calls to inform him/her that the check was rejected.

In other words, the potential victim has a ton of time between learning the truth and sending the money to the involved cybercriminals or scammers.

There are other versions of this fraud as well.

Sometimes such scams inform the victim of different expensive prizes such as sports cars and jewelry which they may have won via foreign lotteries.

And as the script says, scammers ask the victim to send a decent amount of money to cover their expenses such as import and customs duties before they can actually send the victim the ‘prize.’

In other such scams, the scammers may ask the victim to pay a special kind of fee which enables a citizen of the United States of America to claim certain winnings coming from a lottery held in Europe.


In this type of lottery scam, criminals send the potential victim congratulatory notes which announce the user’s winnings of sweepstakes and/or a huge lottery.

And we have to be honest with you, sometimes these lottery scams do make a huge effort to mimic valid and legitimate America state or national lotteries.


Other times, scammers try to stick to the tried-and-tested foreign lotteries.

As mentioned above in this guide as well, scammers ask the victim to wire the money before they can deposit the major prize in their bank account.

You probably do not need us to tell you that email conversations give scammers more opportunities to scam people.

These are what the community calls ‘higher risk profiles’ when compared to receiving physical letters via the older mailing system.

The reason for that is simple as well.

Scammers find it much easier and faster to build relationships via online tools.

More specifically, scammers do not have to work too hard to escalate the situation and ask the potential victim for personal information such as images/photos (scanned ones) of the potential victim’s driver’s license or passport.

When the victim asks for the reason, they inform the victim that they want to verify the identity of the winner and confirm the winner as the ‘winner’.

Our research shows that in such type of scams, scammers are not only able to steal the identity of the victim but also their wealth/money.


Of course, if there is a technology available then scammers are more than likely to use it.

The technology of telephones is not different.

In fact, scammers seem to prefer this mode of communication because it gives them direct contact with the potential victim.

This is also a good time to mention that lottery scammers are notorious for targeting elderly or lonely people.

And it should make complete sense to you.

Elderly and lonely people, generally speaking, have more of a vulnerability against such kind of manipulation.

It also stands to reason that the longer the scammer is able to stay on the phone with the potential victim, the more are the chances that the person on the other end is going to fall in the trap and trust him/her.

Now, when on the phone, scammers sometimes also claim to be calling from the IRS or the customs.

And as the script tells them, they then move forward describing the winnings that they have held on behalf of potential victims.

After that, they tell the potential victim that in order to release the payment of the cash prize, they need to pay appropriate taxes.

Then they ask the winner to wire them some fee to cover those taxes.

There are other times when scammers pretend that they are nothing but lawyers who are representing the company behind the lottery winnings.

In this variation of the scam, these lawyers then demand some cash from the ‘winner’ to cover some administration fees.

Our research has shown that in some cases, syndicated gangs (and also scammers) originating in Jamaica target Americans to fleece them of their money.

That is just one reason why sometimes lottery scams which are carried over the phone are simply referred to as the Jamaican lottery scams.

If you want to protect yourself from such scams then you need to watch out for Caller ID displays which show you a number beginning with 876.

With that said, scammers usually have different methods to disguise the area code they are using.

Be aware of that as well.

SMS lottery scams

As alluded before, if there is an avenue for carrying out a lottery scam, scammers will most definitely use it.

One such avenue is text.

Or more specifically, text messages.

Lottery scams over text messages (most of the time) contain pretty vague messages which congratulate the potential victim by announcing an impressive amount of dollar winnings.

Not only that, but the text message also has an email address and/or a link for potential contact.

Our research also shows that scam text messages usually come in short form.


But just because they do not offer a lot of content does not mean they are not dangerous or less dangerous than some of the other methods that we have mentioned before in this guide.

The active links present in short text messages along with email addresses do make it easier for scammers to engage and entrap people with the help of a single click.

Scam text messages have links which can also open up pathways for spyware and malware which load themselves onto the users’ devices.

The fact that some devices such as tablets and smartphones use smaller screens means that people usually find it hard to sport fraudulent websites.

Scams which are carried out in person.

This type of scam is the most brazen indeed.

In-person lottery scams, as the name suggests, relies on scamming predators preying on the natural goodwill of normal people.

Again, this type of scam is most effective against vulnerable populations like the elderly and such.

At least that is what scammers are thinking since they target them the most.

Anyway, onto the specifics.

In this in-person scam, the scammer usually tries to convince the potential victim that he/she is an illegal immigrant.

Then, the scammer claims that he/she has managed to win a genuine lottery ticket.

However, the scammer explains, only a citizen of the US can claim the winnings from the lottery ticket.

According to the scammer, the potential victim can help him/her by handing over some jewelry and/or cash as collateral to keep the lottery ticket and claim the winnings on behalf of the scammer.

And in exchange for the ‘favour’, the scammer will give the potential victim a portion of the total lottery ticket earnings.

Our research shows that to pull this scam off, scammers usually work in whole teams.

The team usually consists of helper scammers that try to convince the potential victim of the validity of the deal.

Needless to say, the ticket which the scammer presents to the potential victim is not a winning ticket.

All that the scammer wants is to get a hold of the money or some jewelry from the potential victim and then run away.

Common escalation tactics scammers love

It doesn’t really matter what strategy scammers use to get in contact with you.

Their ultimate aim is the same.

They want to engage you and then build trust between you and themselves.

Therefore, what you need to do is to learn the escalation tactics that they use.

Before we list them out, just know that scammers will say and do anything and everything to take as much money from the potential victim as possible.

The situation is even more dangerous if the given scammer has found success with his/her methods previously.

So if a potential victim has mistakenly sent the scammer some money, the scammer is not going to just stop.

He/she is going to work even harder to convince the potential victim to send even more money.

And pretty much like every given advance fee scam, scammers will continue to change their story each time.

They will beg you and ask for more money because of some unexpected fees or increased taxes.

Sometimes they even use the excuse of bribing people because they want to remove barriers from cashing on their lottery winnings.

If victims continue to chase the bigger amount, they can end up a good chunk of their money in return for nothing.

You also have to take into consideration scams that work in phases.

After initial attempts, scammers usually move into more elaborate schemes to take people’s money.

Most of the time, this happens when the potential victim tries to resist sending any kind of money to the scammer.

In such cases, the scammer would have someone call the potential victim and tell them they are calling from the IRS or a private investigator or the police.

This second scammer (the one calling on behalf of a law enforcement authority) conveniently informs the victim that some criminal has scammed them.

Furthermore, the second scammer tells the victim that relevant authorities are on their way to solve the case.

Then the second scammer on the call will ask the victim to pay a small upfront finder’s fee for the authorities to recover all the stolen funds.

You might think this all sounds a bit too incredible.

But it is not.

In fact, it works.

Scammers, due to the nature of their work, are ambitious people.

They do not really like to limit their earnings through crimes to just cash frauds.

Once they have managed to steal some money from the victim, they will also ask the victim to send them fresh copies of their,

  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Various other pieces of personal details.

The scammer will make excuses as to why he/she needs such details.

Sometimes he/she would say that his organization wants to verify the victim’s identity as the legitimate winner of the in-question lottery.

Other times, scammers may supplement the requests with official-looking and neat forms that they want the victim to complete and then submit.

Make no mistake:

All of these are simply methods that scammers use in order to carry out acts of identity theft.

On that note, you should also know that scammers now have the means available to compile complete databases of various scammed individuals.

Hence, if they find a person who some other scammer has already defrauded then a different scammer may make attempts to target the same user but with a different method.

What we mean to say is that if you know someone that has become victim to any scams then do let that person know that they may get new contacts or offers which are also scams.

How to protect yourself from lottery scams.

Scammers are a hard-working and intelligent bunch of people.

They know how to make their different schemes not only efficient but also cost effective.

Sadly, because of their lofty goals, they are prone to making mistakes.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that you should watch out for if you fear that someone is trying to scam you.

Whenever someone tries to contact you and claims that they want you to have your lottery winnings, you need to think about these things.

  • Does the person want you to give your money away either with the help of iTunes gift cards or a wire transfer?
    Remember that both these methods of transferring money to someone are pretty much insecure.
    Not only that, these methods are untraceable and unofficial.
    There is no chance that a legitimate and honest organization would want someone to pay them via such methods.
  • Does the person demand that you do not tell any of your people about your lottery winnings?
    In other cases, does the person wants you to lie about the funds that he/she is sending to you?
  • If the person calling you has a phone number which starts with something like 876 then it is definitely a scam.
    Not only that, it is the notorious Jamaican lottery scammer.
  • Did someone send an email message or letter just to you?
    If you find out that the letter or email message does not have any name on it then that is a good sign that it was mass-produced.
    Do not trust it.
  • If you have received a letter then does that letter have some kind of bulk rate marking on the cover?
    If it does then know that scammers like to send letters in bulk so that they are able to save some money.
    You need to understand that there are no bulk lottery winners.
  • Do you see any strange phrases or spelling errors in the letter?
    You should understand that there are scams which originate in regions where people do not speak the English language natively.
  • Do you remember you entering some kind of internal lottery?
    There is no doubt that you can enter a lottery without ever having to purchase a lottery ticket in person but that is only possible if you live in the country where the lottery originates from.


Zohair A. Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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