Lottery Scammers Get Creative and Put a Cunning Twist on the Classic Scam

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BBB of Central Virginia warns that lottery scammers have put a cunning new twist on the classic lottery scam by drawing on the real life story of a Mega Millions winner.

BBB Tip: Sweepstakes, Lottery, and Prize Scams

“Riches might flow to real lottery winners, but misery will flow to others hoping for a freebie,” said Barry N. Moore, President of the BBB serving Central Virginia.

BBB serving Central Virginia is issuing a scam alert for a new spin on classic lottery scams. Scammers have given a cunning twist on the lottery scam by drawing on the real life story of a Mega Millions winner. Watch out for emails claiming that a recent lottery winner is giving you part of his fortune. It’s a con.

How the Scam Works:

You get an email that appears to come from a man named Harold Diamond. Mr. Diamond is a retired principal who won the largest Mega Millions jackpot in New York lottery history this winter.

The email says Mr. Diamond is giving away part of his fortune to five randomly selected people. You’re so lucky to be selected! To collect the big payday, email Mr. Diamond’s lawyer at the email address provided and mention the verification code provided you. It will prove you’re official. The “lawyer” will have further instructions.

Don’t do it! This scam may draw on current events, but it’s a classic con. If you contact the “lawyer,” he will ask for money under the guise of paying taxes or other fees. No matter how much you send, it won’t be enough!

This scam is has also made its way to our favorite social media platforms. Scammers will set up fake accounts claiming to be the big lottery winner and they will share part of their prize if you like or share a post. These posts could have links in them that would direct users to malware or infect their computer with spyware or viruses.

“Riches might flow to real lottery winners, but misery will flow to others hoping for a freebie,” said Barry N. Moore, President of the BBB serving Central Virginia.

Some Tips to Protect Yourself From a Sweepstakes Scam:

  • Don’t pay up to claim your prize: You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be VERY wary of wiring money or using a prepaid debit card.
  • You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter: You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be careful if you’ve been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.
  • The only legal lotteries in the United States are the official state-run lotteries. Foreign lotteries are illegal.

Learn more about sweepstakes scams on BBB's Consumer News and Opinion Blog. To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam)

About BBB serving Central Virginia: Provides service to Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles and BBB ratings, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education, and charity review.

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