Press Room

WASHINGTON'S LOTTERY URGES PLAYERS AND NON PLAYERS TO BEWARE OF SECOND-CHANCE DRAWING SCAM

Washington's Lottery is committed to the responsible sale and play of its games, and more importantly, the protection of its players.

Recently, Washington's Lottery has learned of a number of current and former Washingtonians that have been victim of an elaborate email message and telephone scam suggesting that these people won a second-chance drawing, and in order to claim their prize they must provide personal information or pay fake processing fees or taxes via wire transfer or money order. In certain cases, the people targeted by the scam had never played a Washington's Lottery game.

The only way consumers can win a prize from Washington's Lottery is by purchasing a lottery product from a licensed lottery retailer. The only time Washington's Lottery might contact consumers directly about a prize is if they win a second chance drawing. But, consumers have to play to win – and a legitimate Washington's Lottery employee will never ask players to provide them with personal or financial information over phone or email unless otherwise communicated in the game's rules. Consumers who believe they are the targets of a lottery scam are strongly encouraged to immediately notify their local police in addition to contacting Washington's Lottery to inform them of the incident.


What consumers should know about playing Washington's Lottery games:
  • The only way consumers can win a prize from Washington's Lottery is by purchasing a lottery product from a licensed lottery retailer.
  • The only time Washington's Lottery might contact consumers directly about a prize is if they win a second chance drawing. But, consumers have to play to win – and a legitimate Washington's Lottery employee will never ask players to provide them with personal or financial information over phone or email.
  • Washington's Lottery does not sell its products online. Any website that offers Washington's Lottery products is doing so illegally. (It's also illegal in the U.S. to purchase tickets from foreign lotteries online.)
  • Washington's Lottery does not collect personal information from its players as part of the sale or redemption process. The only case in which this information may be needed is if a player is making a claim on a lottery prize.
  • If someone claiming to represent Washington's Lottery contacts a consumer and asks for personal or financial information over email, by telephone, or via regular mail, it's almost certainly a scam. Players should ignore the request and report the incident to a Washington's Lottery office immediately.



There are several types of Lottery scams. Below are summaries of the most common methods criminals use to trick their victims.

EMAIL SCAMS:
  • The most common type of lottery scam is conducted over email. Email based lottery scams are designed to look and sound official; they may include logos, attachments, links, contact information, or all of the above. Email based lottery scams come in several forms. They're usually designed to trick the recipient into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that installs a piece of malicious software. Another common form of lottery scam email is a message designed to get the recipient to respond with personal information.

    The most important thing to remember about email based lottery scams is that legitimate lotteries never request claim information via email.

    Fortunately, most email providers filter the majority of lottery scam messages to your "spam" or "junk" folder. Some emails do still get through, though, and it's important that you don't reply, open attachments, or click on links.


WEBSITE SCAMS:
  • Some criminals have gone as far as to establish websites to give their scams a more legitimate look. The design and function of these sites are often made to look like a legitimate lottery's website. (Some are even exact copies.)

    Here are a few things to look for when trying to determine whether a lottery's website is legitimate or not:
    • Is the address for the site correct? (The Washington's Lottery website is located at http://www.walottery.com.)
    • Are there any unusual area codes or street addresses listed as points of contact on the website? (Example: An address for a foreign country is a dead giveaway that you've encountered a scam.)
    • Is the text on the page full of misspellings and/or poor grammar? (Many criminals who run lottery scams aren't native English speakers.)


TELEPHONE SCAMS:
  • The second most common type of lottery scam is conducted via telephone. In most cases, the individual(s) conducting these types of scams are calling from a different country using a disposable cellular phone to avoid being caught. It is still crucial that you report incidents to both local police and the lottery that the individual on the other end of the line claims to represent.

    Telephone lottery scams are designed to trick victims into believing that they won a lottery prize. The victim is told that if they want to claim their prize they must first provide their personal information and send a wire transfer to cover "processing fees" or taxes. You do not have to pay a fee to claim a prize from a legitimate lottery. You do have to pay taxes – after your claim is processed.

    Unfortunately, telephone based lottery scams can be difficult to identify due to the fact that a legitimate lottery may contact a winner via telephone – if they've won a prize in a second chance Scratch drawing, for example. The easiest way to identify a telephone-based scam is if the person calling asks for information or tries to convince you to send them money no matter the amount.


LETTER / FAX SCAMS:
  • Although they're far less common today due to the prevalence of email, letter and fax based lottery scams do exist. They work the same way as email based scams. The only difference is that the victim receives a hard copy of an official looking document soliciting information and/or money.


FOREIGN LOTTERY SCAMS:
  • Another common tactic employed by criminals who run lottery scams is using an exotic (and often times fictitious) foreign lottery as the basis for their story.

    It's important to remember that you can't win a prize from a legitimate lottery without a ticket – and regardless, it's illegal to sell or purchase a ticket from a foreign lottery in the United States.


WHO TO CONTACT IF YOU NEED TO REPORT A SCAM:
If you think you've been the target or victim of a lottery scam, notify your local police immediately and contact the lottery to inform them of the incident.

You can also file reports with other state and federal government agencies.

Suspicious Lottery Email, Phone, or Mail Campaigns:
Federal Trade Commission Phone – 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
Web – http://www.ftc.gov

Mail Fraud Campaigns:
U.S. Postal Inspection Service Phone – 1-800-372-8347
Web – http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov

Internet Fraud Campaigns:
FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
Web – http://www.ic3.gov

For Additional Information:
Washington State Attorney General's Office
Web – http://www.atg.wa.gov