RELEASE DATE: 7/5/2016
Perhaps due to the extra attention Mega Millions is getting due to the very large jackpot, we have seen an uptick in inquiries from people receiving phone calls or emails “from Mega Millions” indicating that they have won big! The entities making these calls or sending these emails are falsely using the Mega Millions name, and the name of other legitimate lottery or technology/internet companies, in an attempt to seem real.
There are no such things as the “United States National Lottery” or the “Mega Millions Mobile Lottery” or the “Mega Millions Corporation” or the “Mega Millions International Lottery” – these are all attempts to look legitimate in order to scam people out of their money.
The state lotteries that participate in Mega Millions remind everyone to be suspicious when anyone you don’t know tells you you’ve won Mega Millions. Except in extremely rare circumstances, no one involved with the Mega Millions game has any way of knowing whether you have a winning ticket or not. And remember, you must have already purchased a Mega Millions ticket from an American lottery in order to win our game. There is absolutely no other way to win!
In a fake lottery scam, if the person is fooled into thinking he or she has won a prize, the crooks usually try to get the person to wire money for “taxes” or “fees.” They may also try to get the victim to provide them with a bank account number, which they will then clean out. Another trick is to send the winner a bogus “check” and ask the winner to send money back to cover expenses. It is only after victims have sent their own money that they discover the check they received is counterfeit.
Here are some tips that can prevent you from being scammed:
* Mega Millions is not an organization. If someone claims to be “from Mega Millions,” that’s a warning sign.
* If you didn’t buy an actual Mega Millions ticket, you haven’t won Mega Millions. You can’t win a legitimate lottery if you didn’t buy a ticket.
* No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money in order to collect a prize they have already won. If you have to pay a fee to collect your winnings, you haven’t won.
* Mega Millions is only played in the United States. If you receive a call or e-mail from outside of the U.S., or if you’re told the prize is in pounds, euros, or anything other than dollars, that is a warning sign.
* If you have caller-ID on your phone, check the area code when someone calls to tell you you’ve won. If it is from outside of your home state, that is a red flag. Also, be aware that some con artists use technology that allows them to disguise their area code: although it may look like they’re calling from your state, they could be anywhere in the world.
* Many scams operate outside of the U. S., so be suspicious if an e-mail contains misspellings or poor grammar, or if the person who calls you speaks broken English.
* If you are told that you need to keep your “win” confidential, be suspicious.
* Just because Mega Millions is mentioned does not necessarily make it a real prize. Scammers will use the Mega Millions name without permission.
* If you are told the “prize” can be wired directly into your bank account, do not give out your bank account or other personal information.
* If you are told that you can “verify” the prize by calling a certain number, that number may be part of the scam. Instead of calling it, you should look up the name of the lottery or organization on your own to find out its real contact information.
The Federal Trade Commission has more information on fake lottery and other scams at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0086-international-lottery-scams. To file a complaint or get free information call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local police or sheriff’s office or state police.
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