Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper warned North Carolinians to watch out for lottery scams as fraud artists may be taking advantage of the publicity surrounding the start of the North Carolina Education Lottery this week.
“Lottery crooks are betting that North Carolinians will fall for their tricks,” said Cooper. “Don’t let these scammers get rich off of you.”
The Attorney General’s office has seen a recent uptick in reports from North Carolina consumers who have received lottery scam pitches. Lottery frauds arrive in the form of letters, emails and telemarketing calls, according to Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division.
Many of these lottery scams originate in other countries, such as Spain, Canada, and Australia, or in other states, such as Nevada and Florida. Some use the names or nicknames of legitimate lotteries such as the “El Gordo” from Spain, while others claim to be associated with non-existent lotteries such as the Canadian National Lottery or the Las Vegas Actionable Awards Program.
Consumers are generally told that they’ve won a prize but must first wire money to cover taxes, insurance or other fees. In some cases, the scammers include a very real-looking counterfeit check or money order that is supposed to cover these fees. Victims cash the check and wire the money, only to learn later that the check was a fake. Some scammers also ask for sensitive financial information for “verification” and then use this information to commit identity theft.
People who pay the money or provide information to the scammers never receive the promised prize. Some North Carolina victims have lost thousands of dollars to these scams.
In one example received by a North Carolina consumer this month and reported to Cooper’s office, a “Final Winning Notification” letter claimed that the consumer held the winning ticket to a 2004 lottery but had not claimed his prize of $196,000. The letter included a counterfeit check for $4,996 to cover “the expense amount to process this claim.”
Cooper’s office works with law enforcement across the country and around the world to investigate lottery fraud rings, and also works to educate banks and wire services operating in the state about these scams.
North Carolinians who get a call or letter claiming that they have won one of these lotteries should not respond. Instead, report the scam to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.