If you get a phone call stating you’ve won $1 million, you may not want to quit your job just yet. Pulaski County Sheriff Mike Gayer says an area resident recently got such a call and was told he needed to send $1,500 to collect his winnings. Gayer says these scams are common and callers or written correspondence will actually use the name of a legitimate lottery or sweepstakes to further convince a potential victim.
Warning signs include a letter, email or text message announcing you won a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes you didn’t enter. Scammers also ask “winners” to send a fee or bank account details to collect a prize. Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay a fee to collect winnings.
Another red flag is the lack of a full street address. Instead a post office box number, email address or mobile phone number is provided as a contact point. Additionally the sender claims they have identified you as a winner by randomly choosing your email address. Official lottery offices do not select prize winners this way nor do they use email to advise players that a prize has been won. Sweepstakes scammers email as many people as they can.
You can protect yourself by heeding the following advice:
- Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam)—delete them.
- Never reply to a spam email (even to unsubscribe).
- Never call a telephone number that you see in a spam email.
- Never respond to a text message which says you have won a competition that you did not enter.
- Do not click on any links in a spam email, or open any files attached to them.
- If it looks too good to be true—it probably is.
If you have any information or believe that you may have been a victim to a lottery or sweepstakes scam, please contact the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office at 1-800-283-3341.