Scam operators in countries around the world target random e-mail accounts with messages telling recipients they've won a lottery prize. These scammers are on the hunt for cash and/or personal information. They will ask for "upfront processing fees" or access to your bank account so funds can be wired. Agreeing to either of these is a recipe for disaster. The number of people who have lost huge sums of money to these scams continues to grow.
Before you respond to ANY e-mail or letter about a foreign lottery win, ask yourself: How can I win a lottery or sweepstakes if I've never bought a ticket?
Here’s An Example
You receive a letter or e-mail advising that you have won a substantial lottery prize - usually from a foreign country and usually containing language directing you to keep your win confidential or run the risk of compromising it. You may be instructed to contact a claims agent to collect the winnings. If you respond, you will receive a claim form which requires you to return the form with personal details including copies of a driver's license, passport, etc. If you do this, you will then receive information on how to collect your winnings.
Most people want their winnings transferred into their bank account. The con will now require up-front fees for taxes, insurance or even legal fees. If you don’t want to pay up-front fees, you will be advised to open an online account with a specified bank, who's "policy" requires a deposit of around US $3,000. The bank is a fake. Or, you may even receive a check for a partial payment to defray the expenses. The check will bounce. The bottom line is that if you play along with the con you will be duped out of your own money and never receive the prize money promised. In addition, your chances of ever recovering any of your money are slim to none.
Learn more about lottery scams at FTC.gov.