MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (CBS) — The Pennsylvania Lottery urges participants to be wary of scammers posing as lottery officials.
“Scammers will falsely state that you’ve won a prize in order to trick you into giving them money, credit card numbers or banking information,” Drew Svitko, executive director of the lottery, said. “Remember: the only way to win is to buy a ticket or enter a real second-chance drawing, and no legitimate lottery will require you to pay up-front taxes or fees.”
Recently, there was a report of a telephone scam that the Mega Millions game. There have also been reported email and Facebook scams mentioning Powerball.
Scammers generally pose as “claim agents” or “claim officers” and they often give a “badge number” or other fictitious information in order to fake being official.
On social media, scammers could pose as lottery employees or even as someone on your list of friends.
“You get a suspicious social media message from someone appearing to be a friend, contact them outside of the social media platform to determine if their profile has been copied or compromised,” Svitko suggested. “Then, notify the platform manager and update your privacy settings.”
The most common “red flags” are the following:
- If you are told to buy a pre-paid debit card in order to pay an up-front “processing fee” or taxes – this is a major hallmark of a scam.
- If you are asked for financial information such as credit card or bank routing numbers.
- If the supposed prize is in pounds, euros, or anything other than dollars.
- If an email contains poor grammar or misspellings.
- If a call sounds as if it could be coming from outside of the U.S.
- If you are instructed to keep the news of your supposed “win” a secret.
- If you are told to call a certain phone number to “verify” the prize. Instead of calling it, look up the lottery’s published number, call and ask to speak with security.
The Pennsylvania Lottery’s website, www.palottery.com has security tips on how to avoid being scammed.
The Federal Trade Commission also has information. To file a complaint or get free information, call 1-877-382-4357. If you have been the victim of a scam, contact local law enforcement or state police.