Q544: I have received an email/ text message/ telephone call telling me I have won some money in a lottery, is it legitimate?
A good piece advice to always remember is that if something seems too good to be true then it more than likely is.
There are many lottery scams in circulation from all over the world. Some are known as advance fee fraud, this is because they will tell you that in order to claim your prize money you have to send them some money first. This could be a fixed amount or a percentage of your alleged prize fund. No real lottery company would ask you to pay a fee before being able to claim your prize. If you pay the fee it is more than likely that you will not get your money back or ever see any of the supposed jackpot.
People have been defrauded out of vast amounts of money. It always pays to be sceptical when parting with money to a company/person you do not know anything about. A lot of 'scammers' ask for a certificate of non drug/terrorism (or similar) in order to appear more official, which as far as we are aware does not exist.
A further point to consider is whether you have actually entered into a lottery? Large amounts of money are not just handed out to random people. If you have received an email, look at the website or email address to see if it is genuine, and if it is an authentic lottery company. If not then do not enter into any correspondence. Do not open attachments unless you are confident about the contents.
A recent scam is a letter purporting to be from the police confirming the authenticity of a letter regarding a lottery win. This is not true; the police do not authenticate commercial organisations.
The best advice is to delete the email/text message or hang up the phone. Do not enter into correspondence with the companies and do not send any money or personal details.
If you receive one of these emails and wish to forward it to the appropriate organisation, the Office of Fair Trading has details of which organisations to report the matter to. See link in related information.