Lottery scams on upswing, officials warn

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and lottery officials are warning consumers about a spike in lottery scams in which victims are tricked into believing they've won a lottery prize.

Lottery scammers' goal is to hoodwink the victims into providing personal information or paying bogus "processing fees" or "taxes" through a wire transfer or money order, according to a press release from the agencies.

In most cases, money can't be recovered from lottery scams because many are conducted by parties outside the United States, where there are barriers to tracking and prosecuting perpetrators.

Email is the most common way to contact victims, though contact through websites and social media such as Facebook are becoming more prevalent. Telephone continues to be another medium for the scams. Scammers will often call from outside the country or use a disposable phone.

Ferguson said Washington's Lottery will not collect personal information as part of the sales process. It doesn't sell products online and won't contact consumers directly, except in the case of a second-place prize. If the Lottery contacts a consumer, employees will not ask for financial information over the phone.

A new brochure about "What you should know about lottery scams" is now available at lottery offices and retailers. For details, visit http://walottery.com/ResponsibleGaming/ConsumerProtection/Encounteredascam/default.aspx or the website of the Attorney General, http://atg.wa.gov/ScamAlerts.aspx.