You will probably have come across one of those emails telling you that you have won a big prize. Well, sound good, right? But wait – you didn’t even play that lottery, so how could you have won? The answer is plain and simple – you can’t. This is one of the most notorious online lotto scams. What those guys do is they send millions of those emails hoping that a few people are actually stupid enough to fall for their lottery scam. If you answer the email, they will ask you to pay a fee in order to get paid. Here’s a good article on Wikipedia on this topic.
Other types of lotto scams
The above scheme is the best-known and most obvious one. But there other online lotto scams that are not quite so obvious. While they appear to be kind of legitimate, there are some pitfalls that you should know about.
Piggybacking on legitimate lotteries
This is actually quite a clever way to defraud lotto fans. The scam works like this: A company (let’s call them Lottofraud Inc.) advertises that you can buy tickets for a specific lottery at discount prices through them. It sounds like a good deal. How can they even offer those tickets cheaper?
Quite simple: A lottery like Powerball only pays out a certain percentage of the money that comes in through the ticket sales because a lot of the revenues go to the state, and they have high overheads. Now LottoFraud Inc. does not have to hand out that much to the state, and their expenses are actually much lower. They may say that they will buy a real ticket at the lottery for you, but this is untrue. They just run their own lottery – it is just that they use the legitimate numbers drawn for Powerball etc. If a customer wins, they pay him – the profit is still enormous.
So where’s the problem? Well, LottoFraud Inc. can easily pay their customers for any winnings up to a certain amount as long as they have enough customers buying their seemingly legit tickets through them. But what if you win REAL BIG? Guess what – the “bank” will go broke, and you won’t get paid. So this is obviously another lotto scam.
Two last forms of online lotto scams we almost forgot
First, there are those so-called “free” lotto games that you find on the internet. The problem with those is that there is no way of telling whether they actually pay a single cent to their customers. What they are trying is to get you to sign up in the hope to win money at the lottery. Of course, you need to give a valid email address to register, and since you want to know whether you have won, you’d have to look at your inbox. Now spammy internet marketers pay good money for lists with fresh, valid email addresses, so you can easily guess how those “free” lotto websites make their money.
The “instant” lotto games – they are not really a lotto scam, but they have nothing to do with real lotto either. It is more like gambling at a casino. You pick a few numbers, decide how much you want to wager, and then push a button. Next, the computer shows you the winning numbers and you can see what you have won (or lost). Sometimes, there is a time lag between your ticket purchase and the draw, but that is just for drama. This is not a real lottery – you might just as well join an online casino. Don’t get this wrong – it’s nothing bad about playing a casino-style game, but we feel that disguising a casino and make it look similar to a legitimate lottery is not right.