The Pennsylvania Lottery has issued a warning over a new scam being used to steal money from players in the state.
According to the Lottery, scammers call consumers to say that they have won a fictitious Mega Millions sweepstake or a prize from another lottery game with a known brand.
The criminals then encourage players to make a payment for taxes and other costs in order for their prize to be processed, but the prize money is never paid out.
“Unfortunately, these types of scams are quite common, especially during times of crisis, such as a pandemic, when people may be vulnerable,” PA Lottery executive director Drew Svitko said.
“It’s important to know that the Pennsylvania Lottery will only contact players if they won a Second-Chance Drawing, a giveaway into which a player may have submitted an entry, or to collect their winning story. We never call or email people at random.”
The Lottery said it believed the scam is being run from the Caribbean.
An investigation from the Lottery found that scammers has been posing as real employees – whose names can be found on the internet – while also been using false information to appear legitimate.
As such, the Lottery has published guidance to help its players recognize scam attempts and stop them falling victim. This includes being asked to pay an up-front ‘processing fee’, give personal financial information or being told the prize is in a currency other than US dollars.
Other signs of a scam according to the Lottery are a consumer being told to keep their win a secret, being told to call a certain number to verify a win, or that an email claiming the player has won contains poor grammar or misspellings.
“We encourage players who may receive suspicious lottery-related calls or emails to contact us and we can answer any questions they may have,” Svitko said.