There has been an ever-increasing number of lottery e-mail scams that have been turning up both in my mailbox and the mailboxes of visitors to this site - my first piece of advice is that you should always ignore them and delete them. Sadly, not everyone does, so I'll explain below how these scams operate.
Firstly, the scammer has to construct a reasonably convincing-sounding "you've won the lottery" e-mail, so they're now tending to throw in verifiable correct facts in there to make it sound legitimate. The two most common things they put in are:
- The draw number, date, winning numbers and jackpot amount of a recent lottery draw. Note that it won't always be the latest one - quite often, its a few weeks old.
- The name and/or address of something legitimate that's lottery related.
Next, the scammer will ask for as much personal information as possible (full name, address, date of birth etc.) - this is useful for them if you get so deep into the scam that they might want to try forging documents with your info on them. Don't give them ANY information.
The scammer will often say "don't tell anyone about this win".
If you have started up a phone or e-mail conversation with the scammers, they will inevitably try to get a "claim fee" from you to process the lottery win.
Sadly, if you have fallen for the scam and actually sent them money, then you probably have no chance of recovering the money you sent, especially if it's to a different country. If it's within your own country, perhaps contacting the police might be a start or possibly the standards trading officers for the county involve.
More details on this subject can be found at:
- Fraudwatch International's lottery scams section.