Police Warn Residents to Beware of Frightening Lotto Scam
Scams are abundant and while all of them are harmful, some are more devastating than others—especially those that end up costing vulnerable victims hundreds or thousands of dollars.
And while many people are savvy and know how to avoid them, there are residents who are less likely to spot a scam and walk away (or hang up) before handing over hard-earned money.
Peel police recently took to Twitter to remind residents that a whopping (and shocking) $3 million has been lost to lottery scams in Canada.
According to the Peel Regional Police's fraud fact card, lottery scams are common. They typically begin with a phone call or text advising you that you’ve won a substantial amount of money. Even when people cannot recall buying lotto tickets, they sometimes become intrigued and follow up. Once the scammer has the victim's attention, they request money to cover administrative fees or taxes. In some cases, fees are incurred when the victim responds to the text or calls a specific phone number.
So, how do you go about identifying lotto fraud? First off, remember that if you don't recall entering a contest or buying a lotto ticket, you most likely didn't. You can't win a lottery you didn't enter.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) says that unsolicited emails, letters, or telephone calls asking you to pay taxes or fees on lottery winnings should be treated with suspicion. If you've been told you've won something, you should be wary if:
- You did not buy a ticket
- You have never heard of the lottery game
- You did not register your name, address, email address, phone number, and a credit card before you were allowed to buy a ticket on an online lottery web site
- You do not live in the country and you are not a citizen of the country of that lottery
- You are asked to pay money up front for fees or taxes in order to release your “win”
- You are told you must reply within a given time or the money will be given to someone else
- Visit the Canada Revenue Agency at www.cra.gc.ca/myths for more information on protecting yourself from this and other types of fraud
If you suspect you have received a solicitation from a fraudulent sweepstakes or lottery, you should report it to police. You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a central agency that collects information on telemarketing complaints throughout Canada and relays information to the appropriate enforcement agencies.
You can contact Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online.