BBB warns: Beware of sweepstakes scams

Scammers have given a classic lottery scam a cunning new twist. Scam artists are using the name of a real life Mega Millions winner and claiming to give you a part of his fortune.

Fake emails appearing to be from a jackpot lottery winner are telling victims they have been chosen to receive a million dollars. To collect the fortune, you must contact a “lawyer” who will ask for money under the guise of paying taxes or other fees. But no matter how much you send, it won’t be enough. It is a classic con.

Scam artists are also using social media to steal personal information and money. Victims receive personal messages or posts appearing to be from their friends. These posts tell them they have won a prize or are entitled to a large sum of money. A wire transfer is required in order for them to claim their winnings. However, the prize is never received.

Lottery and sweepstakes scams are common and easy to spot. They are also very easy to avoid.

*If you have to pay money or buy products to receive a prize, it is likely a scam. Don’t pay up and be wary of wiring money or using a prepaid debit card.

*If you don’t remember entering a contest, then you probably didn’t win it. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be cautious if you have been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.

*Verify that the offer is real but not by using the source the scammer provides. If you suspect a scam, don’t call the phone number in the email or website because chances are the person on the other line will be involved, too.

*Also, remember that 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 and find out about other scams at

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