Criminals are taking advantage of well-known lottery draws to trick victims into parting with their money.
New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals almost £1 million has been lost to lottery fraud in the past seven months.
What is lottery fraud?
Criminals will contact unsuspecting victims informing them they have won a lottery or prize draw. The victim is then informed that they will need to pay an advance fee in order to receive their winnings. In reality, the winnings are non-existent and it is an attempt to steal the victims money, personal or financial information.
Between April and October 2021, Action Fraud received 629 reports of lottery fraud, with 89 per cent of reports mentioning well-known prize draws. Impersonation of People’s Postcode Lottery accounted for almost half (49 per cent) of all reports.
Almost three quarters of victims (70 per cent) were aged over 50, with those aged over 65 accounting for 40 per cent of reports.
Over half of the reports (59 per cent) mentioned being contacted via telephone. Other methods of contact reported by victims included email (21 per cent) and postal letter (10 per cent).
Almost have of victims (41 per cent) said they were asked to pay the advance fee to release the alleged winnings by purchasing gift cards and relaying codes to the fraudster.
Fraudsters use gift cards as a form of payment as they can be easily redeemed and sold on. These criminals also don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to share the serial code on the back of the card with them.
In other instances, victims reported being asked for personal and financial information in order to obtain their alleged winnings. Some victims reported providing their bank details thinking they would be sent a small payment to verify the account. In reality, criminals will use these details to steal the victims money.
How to protect yourself
Action Fraud advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.
- Stop: Unsolicited offers of large sums of money in return for a small upfront payment should always raise a red flag. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- Challenge: Could it be fake? Remember, you can’t win a prize in a competition you didn’t enter. It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
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