I have been reporting to you for years about the infamous Jamaican lottery scam by which many Americans, mostly elderly, have been scammed out of money after being told that they have won the non-existent Jamaican lottery.  The scam begins when the victims receive a telephone call informing them that they have won this non-existent lottery that they never entered and are then pressured to pay “fees” and “taxes” before their winnings can be sent to them. This scam has been going on since the 1990s. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently issued a new report entitled “Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How ‘Winners’ Lose Millions Through an Evolving Fraud.” In its report, the BBB indicated that a half a million people in the United States and Canada lost $117 million dollars to these scams. As startling as these figures are, they are probably understated as many victims of the scam fail to report that they have become victims. While many people are familiar with the Jamaican phony lottery scam, increasingly the scam is originating in Costa Rica as well, but the story is still the same. The victim is notified of having won a lottery they have not entered and then pressured to pay continual fees and costs in order to claim their prize which never comes.
As I have often told you, it is difficult to win a lottery you have entered.  It is impossible to win one that you have not even entered.  You should always be skeptical about being told that you have won a lottery you never entered.  It is also important to remember that it is illegal to play foreign lotteries except when you are actually present in the other country.
While it is true that income taxes are owed on lottery winnings, legitimate lotteries never collect tax money from winners.  They either deduct the taxes from the winnings or leave it up to the winners to pay their taxes directly to the IRS.  You also should never pay a fee to collect a legal lottery prize.
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