Scammers continue to trick Australians with the promise of becoming easy millionaires, with one big catch.
In years past, lottery scams would be mailed to your door, but are now increasingly high-tech, sent via text message, email and on social media, which the consumer watchdog says is “unsurprising”, as these methods are cheaper and sneakier.
“Scammers move with the times, using new communication channels to deliver old scams,” says Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) spokesman Duncan Harrod.
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“Lottery scams can target anybody,” warns a Consumer Affairs Victoria spokesperson.
Lottery and sweepstake scams try to trick you into handing over personal details or money up-front in order to receive a prize from a competition the person has never entered.
The scammers typically claim to be affiliated with a genuine overseas lottery entity or company, with ‘winnings’ offered in foreign currencies such as British pounds or American dollars.
Between July and December last year, 220 people complained about these scams in Victoria alone, with many more going unreported.
“Sometimes people who have been scammed feel too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward,” says the Consumer Affairs Victoria spokesperson.
In 2013, consumers reported losing more than $5 million to these scams.
How not to fall for a lottery scam
1. If you are offered a prize, contact the company directly to check if it is legitimate.
2. Ignore any offers for a lottery or sweepstake you did not enter.
3. Do not click on any links attached to suspicious prize offers, as they may contain malware.
4. Think twice before responding to text messages or missed calls from numbers you do not recognise.
5. Never send personal details in order to claim suspicious prizes.
6. Always report a scam to a consumer affairs body so that others are not caught out.