December 2020: The scams and fraud on this page increase during the holiday season. Know what to look for and how to protect yourself.
- Email and text
- Phone and fax
Scammers contact you to tell you that you've won, or have a chance at winning, a prize or lottery. This communication occurs through:
- Social media
- Website pop-ups
If you respond, the scammers tell you that before receiving any winnings, you must pay an advance fee or buy something. The scammer may request payment through a money service business such as Western Union or Money Gram, or request that you provide prepaid gift cards.
No winnings are ever received.
There are many variations on the prize scam. Here are some that have been reported to us.
The scammer tells you that you're a winner of a foreign lottery and you need to pay fees to claim your winnings. However, you did not travel to purchase tickets.
Prize winner call
This variation targets seniors. They receive a call from someone claiming to represent "Reader's Digest" or "Publisher's Clearing House". The scammer states that the senior has won a car or cash prize. To get the winnings, they need to pay a small fee to cover taxes, legal fees, or delivery costs.
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