Lottery scams are one of the most effective scams. Forgetting that it is hard enough to win a lottery that you have entered and impossible to win one that you have not entered, many people are victimized each year by phony lotteries. The basis for the scam is pretty much the same although the specifics may differ from case to case. You are told that you just won a lottery, but that you have to pay fees or taxes in order to claim your prize. The victims pay the fees and taxes demanded and then never see any winnings. One of the new variations of the lottery scam has been turning up in San Diego where recently a retired couple received a phone call telling them that they had won a multimillion dollar lottery, They then received a fax that appeared to carry the official seal of San Diego County that informed them as to the taxes they would need to pay in order to claim their prize. Trusting the official looking document, they not only wired $20,000 to the scammers, they also provided their Social Security numbers and bank account information which the identity thieves used to steal the rest of their bank account. This scam happened in San Diego, but similar scams are being done in other parts of the country.
Don’t let greed blind you. You don’t win lotteries that you have not entered and no legitimate lottery requires you to pay fees or taxes to them in order to claim their prize. Income taxes are owed for lottery winnings, however either the lottery sponsor deducts the taxes before you receive your prize or they give you the entire prize and you are responsible for paying the taxes. They never collect taxes on behalf of the IRS. With today’s technology it is easy to copy and counterfeit any seal or logo so if you receive a document that appears to be from an official source, you cannot rely on it. If it asks for personal information, do not provide it unless you have independently confirmed that the communication is legitimate.