Security Awareness

Beware of Lottery Scams

BEWARE - Scam Alert!
If it sounds too good to be true… it probably is.

In recent years, regular mail and Internet e-mail have become a means for con artists to defraud innocent people out of their money. Scams involving fictitious lotteries are no exception. Fraud Watch International lists approximately 380 known lottery scam operatives around the world.

Here's how it can happen.

  • You win a “contest” that you never entered.
  • Someone you don’t know requests your personal information.
  • You must pay a fee to receive a “prize."
  • You are pressured to “act now!"
  • Someone requests a large down payment.
  • The company refuses to provide written information.
  • The company has no physical address, only a P.O. Box.
  • The company insists you pay in cash.

Here's an example of how a scam works:
Typically, victims are notified they have won a lottery via an email, text message, or in the mail, yet have to pay transfer fees, taxes or provide proof of their identity and/or details of their bank accounts or credit cards in order to receive their "winnings." The names of these organizations change all the time (they just make up a new name when one is exposed as a fraud), although many of the notifications use similar wording. 

You may be instructed to open an online account with a specified bank, whose "policy" requires a deposit of around US $3,000. The bank is a fake. Or, you may even receive a check for a partial payment to defray the expenses. The check will bounce.

The bottom line is that if you play along with the con you will be duped out of your own money and never receive the prize money promised. In addition, your chances of ever recovering any of your money are slim to none.

Things to remember:

  • Only buy tickets from authorized Ohio Lottery retailers.
  • Never agree to help a stranger cash a lottery ticket.
  • Unless you specifically entered a promotion or second-chance drawing sponsored by the Ohio Lottery Commission, you will never be contacted by us informing you that you have won a prize.
  • Be sure you are on the Ohio Lottery’s office social channels when talking about the lottery online. Our official channels can all be accessed via You may also look for the Ohio Lottery’s verified Twitter or Instagram. The Ohio Lottery’s official Facebook page is here.
  • Never accept a collect call from anyone claiming to be a lottery official.
  • Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists will often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch. 
  • Never purchase tickets from foreign lotteries. The sale and trafficking in foreign lottery tickets is a violation of federal law.

 If you suspect that you have become a victim of a lottery-related crime, contact the Ohio Lottery at (216) 774-5757.

If you think you've been a victim of an Internet fraud scheme, you can file a complaint, online, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, of which the FBI is a part, at Information of a variety of scams can be found at the National Consumers League’s website at

Learn more about International Lottery Scams.