You’ve probably come across one of those emails telling you you’ve won a big prize. Well, it sounds good, right? But wait, you haven’t even played the lottery, so how could you win? The answer is clear and simple: you can’t. This is one of the most famous online lotto scams. What those guys do is they send out millions of those emails hoping some people are actually stupid enough to fall for their lottery scam. If you reply to the email, they will ask you to pay a commission to get paid. Here is a good Wikipedia article on this topic.
Other types of lotto scams
The above scheme is the best known and most obvious. But there are other online lotto scams that aren’t that obvious. While they seem to be a bit legitimate, there are some pitfalls you should be aware of.
Piggybacks on legitimate lotteries
This is actually a pretty clever way to defraud lotto fans. The scam works like this: One company (let’s call it Lottofraud Inc.) advertises that you can buy tickets for a specific lottery at discounted prices through them. Sounds like a good deal. How can they even offer those cheaper tickets?
Simple enough: a lottery like Powerball only pays a certain percentage of the money that comes in through ticket sales because a lot of the revenue goes to the state and they have high overheads. Now LottoFraud Inc. doesn’t have to distribute much to the state and its expenses are actually much lower. They might say they will buy a real lottery ticket for you, but that’s not true. They just run their own lottery – it’s just that they use the legitimate numbers drawn for Powerball etc. If a customer wins, they pay him – the profit is huge anyway.
So where is the problem? Well, LottoFraud Inc. can easily pay their customers any winnings up to a certain amount as long as they have enough customers purchasing their supposedly legitimate tickets through them. But what if you win REALLY BIG? Guess what: the “bank” will fail and you will not get paid. So this is obviously another lotto scam.
Two latest forms of online lotto scams that we have almost forgotten
Firstly, there are those so-called “free” lotto games you find on the Internet. The problem with those is that there’s no way to tell if they’re actually paying a single penny to their customers. What they are looking for is to convince you to sign up in hopes of winning lottery money . Of course, you need to provide a valid email address to register, and since you want to know if you have won, you should look at your inbox. Spam online marketers now pay a lot of money for lists with up-to-date, valid email addresses, so you can easily guess how those “free” lotto websites make their money.
“Instant” lotto games – are not really a lotto scam, but they have nothing to do with real lotto either. It is more like gambling in a casino. Pick a few numbers, decide how much you want to bet and then press a button. Next, the computer shows you the winning numbers and you can see what you have won (or lost). Sometimes, there is a time lag between your ticket purchase and drawing, but that’s just for the drama. This isn’t a real lottery – you might as well sign up for an online casino. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not bad to play a casino-style game, but we feel that disguising a casino and making it look like a legitimate lottery isn’t fair.