Lottery and Prize Scams

Unexpected prizes or lottery winnings

You receive a letter, telephone call of email announcing that you have won a prize from a foreign lottery that you have never heard of. You are asked to pay a processing fee or supply banking information to collect your winnings.

People all over the UK receive messages such as these on a daily basis. While some sweepstakes offers are legitimate, the majority of them come from fraudsters who are trying to trick you into paying them money or revealing your personal information.

This type of scam commonly appears in the form of a lottery based in a foreign country. Even though you did not enter this lottery, you have somehow won it, and need to pay money to claim your prize. Most countries do not allow non-citizens to collect prizes from their lotteries, so this is a dead giveaway that it is a scam.

You may also learn that you have won a promotional prize from a company whose name is well known, such as BMW or Coca-Cola. Some of these offers sound convincing because you recognise the name of the company. If you were to contact the company directly through their website, (not by using the contact info that you were given to claim your ‘prize’) they would surely tell you that they have no such draw and did not authorise their company name or logo to be used in such a way. If you receive emails that appear to bee impersonating a known company, it is a good practice to forward the email to that company to let them know that they are being impersonated.

Most of the scams directed at UK residents originate outside of the country, even though they may provide a UK address for contact.

This type of scam typically works the following ways:

  • You are guaranteed a winning ticket or prize in exchange for a registration fee
  • You are asked to make a purchase in order to receive a prize
  • You are asked to call or text a premium rate phone number
  • You are given a deadline in which to claim your prize
  • You are asked to disclose financial or personal information
  • You are asked to transfer money out of the country

Most of the time, there is no prize whatsoever, and once you have sent your money out of the country it cannot be recovered. If you provide your name, address and phone number, you have just given the fraudsters everything they need to use your credit card online. In the next step they usually ask you to pay a small processing fee via credit card so that they can get the card number. They make the fee extremely small so people will think nothing of paying it, not realising that it is not the money but the card number that the scammers want.

In the rare cases when there is a real prize, it is usually worthless, overpriced or misleadingly described and worth much less than the fee that you paid. (the bottom line is, you have just been tricked into purchasing a piece of junk)

To avoid falling victim to lottery scams, remember these tips:

  • Ask yourself how you could have won a prize in a draw that you haven’t entered
  • When you win a legitimate prize, you do not have to pay money to claim it
  • Being asked to use a premium rate phone number is the same as being asked to pay money to claim your prize
  • Never provide personal information, banking information or credit card numbers unless you can be absolutely certain with whom you are dealing.
  • After you have responded to a fake promotional offer, your name and address will most likely be provided to other scammers

Signs of suspicious ‘prize offers’ include:

  • The email, letter or phone call is unsolicited
  • You won a contest that you did not enter
  • You are given a deadline before which you must claim your prize
  • You are asked to pay an ‘administration fee’ in order to process your prize
  • You are asked to use a premium rate phone number to claim your prize
  • The ‘contest’ originates in a country other than your own
  • Prizes are in foreign currency
  • You are asked to transfer money out of the country, especially to Canada or the Netherlands
  • You are asked to provide personal information, banking information or a credit card number

You can protect yourself against unsolicited lottery scams by remembering that you should never have to pay money to receive a prize that you have won. Also remember that you cannot win a contest that you did not enter. The fraudsters usually claim that they selected you at random, but this is completely false; no legitimate contest in the world selects its entrants this way. Do not enter any sweepstakes from foreign countries, or any contests unless they are from a company that you know well.

Common lottery scams

Canadian lotteries

Many UK citizens have sent thousands of pounds in response to unsolicited telephone calls that they have received regarding fraudulent Canadian lotteries. Some people have been scammed out of as much as £300,000 as the scammers continue to ask them for more and more money to cover the costs of claiming their winnings. These lotteries are nonexistent, and the people will never get anything in return for the money that they have paid out. All Canadian lotteries are government-run and can only be claimed by citizens of Canada. Under no circumstances would they ever pay prizes to people located outside of Canada. Knowing this can protect you from this particular scam.

The El Gordo Lottery

Officials from the El Gordo lottery have sent out a warning regarding scammers that have used the so called Spanish lottery, for fraudulent purposes. They have even gone so far as to forge bank forms and other documents in order to fraudulently receive money. Loterias y Apuestas de Estado

People across the UK have been receiving emails and letters stating that they are Spanish lottery winners. The ‘lucky winners’ are told that they need to supply banking information to receive their prize. They are also informed that a percentage of the money that they have won will be held to cover expenses. The ‘winners’ are contacted at a later date and asked to pay an assortment of processing fees before their prize can be released. Those who are unfortunate enough to have sent money will never receive any sort of prize. Authentic Spanish lotteries have tax-free prizes.

Leave a Comment

34 comments… add one
  • KeithT 10 November, 5:26 pm

    I have had a few of these persistant letters, claiming I have won up to 25k. The dead giveaway is twhen you are asked to phone a premium telephone line to get your claims number. You pay 10 quid for the call and never hear anything again. Whilst 25k would be nice, it isn’t worth a light if you are never going to see it. My advice to anyone receiving these letters through the post is to ignore them, shred them and get on with your life. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

  • ian frost 16 April, 11:14 pm

    question 16/4/ i have recieved in the post a yellow card,it says that if i return card within 5 days with $10 i will recieve £ do ifind out or report it to if this is a scam.the card comes from international fulfilment registry no 6854236. the return address is scr,po box 2913,shawnee mission ,ks66201 usa.sorry if this is the wrong place to mention it but this is not nice if someone beleives it to be true

  • jane salf. 14 June, 12:53 pm

    I received such as news from schawnee Mission Kansas city , po box 29180, informing me I won 900 000.ooeuros and I have to pay 20 euros for getting it!….
    and an another one from International award center for having 15000dollars or 10000euros paying 10 euros for euros

  • LC 16 July, 10:39 am

    I have also received a card from International Fulfillment Registry No. 6854236, asking for a £10 fee to enable me to claim £735,300. Return address is P.O Box 2913, Shawnee Mission, KS 66201, U.S.A. I’ve immediately smelled a dead rat, as (1)the spelling in “fulfilment” is incorrect (professional legal companies know how to spell) and(2) I’ve never heard of them before and have not entered into any kind of competition with them, so how can I win anything (3)if you have won anything legally, you don’t need to pay a fee for the releasing of that money.
    I also get calls and frequent letters from them to ask me to enter into this fantastic £40million prize draws which include the combined Australian, Spanish and Italian lotteries. I am sure numerous people are falling into this trap as they are desperate for a bit of money.
    Is there absolutely nothing that can be done to get these people behind bars? How much do they make by illegally scamming innocent people like this? What is the point of reporting it if they are allowed to keep on with what they are doing all along?

  • Bill Weatherstone 5 August, 8:03 pm

    my neighbour lady asked me to check this out. The card is from International Fulfillment Registry and has the same addres and No as abouve mentioned as well as the same home address on the other recipients. I could just send them a note to send the mony and deduct their twenty dollar fee from the prize itself.

    It’s a scam around the world.
    PS; this time they want Canadian funds.

  • Jenny 19 August, 2:49 pm

    I have received the same yellow card from Shawnee Mission, KS, USA. I have to send £10 fee for the prize money of £735,300.00.
    They send their shit, we should send ours in an envelope back !!
    I always think of the “Real Hustle”, when receiving such letters – “If it’s TOO good to be true. It probably is !!!!”

    Pathetic scammers.

    Do not! reply or more importantly send any money, you won’t recieve money back – but prob a big black hole in your bank account! If they can find a way into your personal details, they will. BE SAFE!

  • cc 25 November, 12:46 am

    I also have received a card….. absolutley ridiculous the exact reference numbers as the other comments, address details and spelling error.

    How do these scammers sleep at night?

  • Mr White 5 February, 12:29 am

    I had a text message saying that i have one £500000 on a nokia cellphone number being drawn, is this a scam?

  • Barry McAllister 22 February, 5:03 pm

    Yes, me too, all details as mentioned, and yes, just how are they allowed to get away with such an obvious criminal offence ? With any of these, as soon as any payment is asked for,BIN it !!

  • m Rogers 1 March, 2:30 pm

    i have been sent from – Unclaimed prize Rollout- ross on wye – herefordshire – I havnt phoned no but believe it is a scam – £1.50 per minute – dont phone !!

    I have recieved new letter today – they want my dob!! – they can find this from experian ! im not going to call it as I seen on yes forum that another person did phone but it is a scam –

  • Alan Drew 26 April, 6:13 pm

    We also had the card from international fulfillment registry saying that my wife had a guarenteed prize of £735,00 and that she had to send of £10.00 registry processing fee.
    The address was SRC PO box 2913 Shawnee Mission KS66201 USA so it looks like a definate scam luckily we will not take anyone up on an offer unless we research first.

  • Ann. Cowie 18 May, 3:32 pm

    18th. May 2011 14.30

    Wife received same card, same prize, same address

    I see these fraudsters are still at it but my treatment is the same the card goes straight to the shredder

  • jj 20 May, 9:20 pm

    i sent nearly a thousand pounds to the winning galore uk
    and some time i had to call premium numberst the pin
    code which was supposed to be sent to them to unlock
    the reveiled prize.please if you hear from this compagny
    ignore it.some scammers are using impire and readers digest.
    we have to find these criminals via forum and take them to the justice.i have more scamings experience including lap top and tv sellers driving around vans and targeting innocent people with
    fake items.

  • alex cameron 23 May, 6:38 pm

    this is one i recieved this morning

    BBC ONE national lotteryteam (
    sent 22 may
    bbc one national lottery team
    national lottery draws results.
    po box200 harrogate england united kingdom
    bbcone representative
    tel +447045765409..
    visit our website num;515944052/166
    winning num 1604
    mr gaskin howard online coordinator
    bonanza for londons heritage ect then all details of addresss ect if you need any more info you got my email
    i will save this and print off a copy for trading standards cheers

  • J Marlow 8 June, 1:10 pm

    I recently received a notification from EL GORDO INT’L LOTTERY informing of entry to their lottery and had won 955,777,00 Euros
    TEL NO. +346-031-07003 / FAX NO.+349-176-92823
    As I have never purchased any tickets I regard this as a scam SO BEWARE

  • Ms Ferraro 19 August, 6:42 pm

    I had a phonecall saying I Had won either an ipad or ten thousand pounds and they said I must check my email but first asked what my date of birth was and also what my email was and my address but till now have not won any prize or had any emails from them.

    Their phone number was the following


    The phonecall also came through another time and I had just topped up my phone when the 5 pound topup vanished after their phonecall.

    It is a scam and I worry that they got into my email address as they knew my birthdate and my street address so this should be followed up and checked out.

  • Glen Shakepeare 23 September, 11:40 am

    I have been plagued by these so called winnings in the mail and have on occasion sent the processing fee but having again this morning received exactly the same letter again requesting the same registration fee for the same prize I finally decided to google this firm and seen what I was starting to suspect.

  • Aza kvitsaridze 12 October, 11:00 am

    Question 12/10/11. Yesterday I have received in the post a yellow card. It says, that if I return the card within 5 working days with £10 I will receive £ 735 300.00. How do I find out or report it to if this is a scam. The card come from international fulfillment registry No 6854236. The return address is SRC PO Box 2913 Shawnee Mission, KS 66201 4S. If is not true is not a nice to make people fool.

  • Phil Robson 12 October, 10:15 pm

    People; today just had exactly the same junk in the post as Aza, Anne, Alan, CC, Jenny, LC and doubtless many many others regarding the Shawnee Mission scam.
    There’s no need to give this sort of stuff more than a cursory glance is there? Really. Ask yourself; have you entered a foreign prize draw/lottery? Why would you pay over money, no matter how small a sum, to claim what, if it was kosher, would be rightfully yours anyway? Do some sums – if 100,000 suckers/people pay £10.00/$15.00/15 Euros or whatever to these pond-life scammers (people-wise that’s a VERY conservative figure and is purely for illustration – there’s a LOT more than 100,000 scammable people in this world, S/Mission and their ilk know and depend on it) then that’ll bring them in a cool one million GB Pounds. BRILLIANT! For them! And that’s from only 100,000 folks – there’ll be a lot more than that that are desperate to throw their cash away you, and they, can depend on it. Then, very soon, S/Mission will melt away to start again with a modified version of their last success, at a different address – they’re always one step ahead of the law …….. Make sure YOU are one step ahead of S/Mission et al by removing your naivety hat and tossing all such patently obvious tripe where it belongs.

  • RICHARD FAULKNER 17 October, 10:10 pm

    I just return their rubbish in an unstamped envelope with a ‘URGENT PAYMENT’ written on the back.

  • JAN 29 November, 11:37 pm

    Received a letter today from EUROMILLIONS COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS ONLINE LOTTERY telling my husband he had won £400,000.00, and asking him to contact DAVID NELSON at TOTAL FINANCE SECURITY COMPANY. There was a form enclosed to fill in with all personal details and bank details. Its gone through the shredder now.

  • Gilbert Brand 19 December, 10:30 pm

    Guten Tag ; ich bin Die Person die an eurem Spiel Gewonnen hatt und immer noch nicht Ausbezahlt wurde Ich habe denn Letzten Brif an Sie
    am 16.12.2011 gesendet aber da Weinachten ist bald kann der Brief später ankommen .Ich Habe 900.000,00€ GewonnenSie haben mich bestätigt als gewinner mit der ID: CHE8302******(Kloten)MBRA59D-348324
    ID-Verschlüsselung; 43968065207 .2011 Formular O4EF28
    Gilbert Mc.Brand
    CH-8302 Kloten

  • ann 20 January, 11:01 pm

    same card, same,same scam! no wonder they keep on with the scams, the profits are enormous. bin it

  • Glen Shakepeare 21 January, 9:15 am

    I get these letters every single day bar Sundays. I rest easy in the knowledge that is is costing them in printing and postage for me to bin it.

  • John McKeever 6 March, 5:59 pm

    I received a letter from Eurosystem Sweepstake Int’L Lottery Board SA

    I was asked to contact my claims agentDon Alfredo Sanchez the foreign Operations Manager of Eurosecuritas and Financier SA Tel 0034 etc.

    Money must be claimed by 28/03/2012.

    Also 10% of my winnings belongs to Eurosecuritas Company SA.
    This 100% will be remitted after you have received your winning fund in your country.

    Is this a scam, looks very like it.

  • jayne smith 16 March, 11:10 am

    i’ve done that too, if it’s by post or email then i just say, take the money out the winnings and send the rest, of course they never do.

    this one’s a scam of sorts, got an email of red cars, saying they’ve checked my driving record and i could become a driving instructor.
    since i’ve never passed my driving test, i sent an email back saying… bloody amazing that, didn’t even know i took it, never mind passing it. if you you happen to know where my driving license is please be so kind and let me know.

  • pol 11 April, 8:40 pm

    i also have received the international fulfillment registry card for 10pounds registry fee to claim 735,300.00 poppy cock, wot a scam, they want rounding up and shooting right between the eyes or more painful areas if possible

  • SUE 12 April, 12:51 pm

    Have received a similar card, it is very official looking and I wonder how they got my details. It is all very well telling people who report this to ignore it but shouldn’t someone be prosecuting these scammers so that the people who fall for it will be protected. ? ? The address on the card must be correct as they want the money sending there so why not just do a raid on them and stop the scam ?
    It requests the money to be sent to SRC PROCESSING CENTER G PO BOX 2913 SHAWNEE MISSION KS 66201 USA

  • Ann-Marie H 30 June, 9:33 pm

    Please don’t give your account details to Euro Millions Commonwealth of Nations – SCAM. iF YOU REALLY HAVE WON THEY CAN SEND A CHEQUE THEY DON’T NEED YOUR BANK DETAILS.

  • Alexander Henry Maclean 10 June, 1:15 pm

    I have received such a letter today. I reported this to Citizens Advice, in order that they may take action to prevent this scam from conning anyone out of their money.

  • Calaran 22 January, 5:49 pm

    My mother has dementia I have just taken 10 letters off her pretending to post them, no cheques or bank details in them but I don’t know what’s she’s been doing before this
    She thinks she’s writing to friends , my dads in hospital after falling down the staires and breaking his back so he can’t keep an eye on her

  • John Jones 20 February, 7:06 pm

    Best thing is to put card/letter into an envelope with the label & send back, perhaps if everyone causes them to pay for postage it will help stop this nonsense.

  • Sunni M 13 October, 10:56 pm

    The Euro millions scam is still going on in 2015. My 78 yr old father almost fell for it until I overheard him talking on the phone to some man in Spain about getting $2000. to fly there and sign papers to release the money. I looked up the name of the lottery and found this sight then showed my father who promptly hung up the phone. I read him all the information that you provided concerning lottery scams. I’m hoping this won’t happen again, he was lucky I came by when I did.

  • John Moore 10 August, 2:22 pm

    Following completion of a Groupon questionnaire and a promise of some cleansing cream for doing so and all I needed to do was pay for package & postage. This I was willing to do as the product looked good, since that date in June this year I have had £382.98 taken from my account and only last week I received further products that I never ordered. I contacted my bank and they agree this was unethical but within the law as I had provided them with my bank account details and in the process hadn’t read the terms and conditions of the gift being offered. I recognise that I am partly at fault in supplying my bank details and perhaps more importantly not reading the full terms and conditions of their offer and according to the bank the company in question operate from three different website and they rely totally on customers not being aware that within the 14 day trial period you must let them know should you not wish to continue, this I wasn’t aware of and this has proved to be a costly mistake. Is there anything I can do to reclaim the money taken from my account? The company is Called Retinolla and they have a PO Box number 7574 based in Milton Keynes.


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