The first thing to remember when or if you believe you have received a lottery scam attempt is that if you did not pay to enter a lottery game, you cannot win. This is usually the only piece of information people need when dealing with a scam message. If you do regularly play in a lottery game, read the points below to make sure you are not dealing with a scammer.
Regardless of how you receive the message, an official lottery operator will not disclose the amount of money you have won. If you play online, official lottery operators – and online lottery messenger and betting services – will email you to inform you of a win, but it will simply remind you to log in to and check your account. If you receive a message specifying a certain amount, you can be confident it is a scam.
Any communication you receive that requests bank details - or mentions paying some kind of upfront fee to claim your prize – should be ignored, deleted, and, if you wish, reported. You are not required by the official operators to pay any kind of fee in order to receive a prize, and if you have played online through official providers, you will have provided such information when creating an account.
If it is email correspondence, check the email address that the message has been sent from. Official lottery operators’ email addresses will be appended by their website’s name – for example, correspondence from the UK’s national lottery operator will come from “@national-lottery.co.uk”, as that is their website address. In addition, if the email address bears no relation to the lottery in question or comes from a free email account, like “@gmail.com” or “@outlook.com”, or consists of senseless numbers and letters, then the message is likely not genuine.
Any correspondence you receive where you are referred to as “winner” or “Sir/Madam” – or anything else generic and impersonal – is usually a scam. As you would have entered personal information when playing with an official lottery operator, or a lottery messenger or betting service, you will be referred to by your name in messages from them. This is another quick and easy way to discern between what is trustworthy and real and what is not.
If the message you receive is littered with incorrect and inconsistent spelling and grammar, you should be very cautious, as this is one of the easiest and most common giveaways of a lottery scam. Official companies take great pride in their professionalism, and so their messages are always well written and coherent.
Also look out for messages that ask for your discretion when dealing with the prize you are supposed to have won. While confidentiality does play its part in the lottery, the reason in these instances is so that you do not mention it to friends or family who may advise you that the message is a scam.
On a similar note, if a message you receive has a degree of urgency to it - and mentions a short period in which you can claim your prize - it is likely disingenuous. You can contact official lottery operators to clarify how long you have to claim a prize, and while some lotteries have prize claim periods of up to a year, the shortest claim period you’ll usually encounter is two months. If you’d like to check a certain lottery’s claim period, visit its dedicate page on Lotto Broker or check out the comparison cards on the Games page.