If you didn’t buy a lotto ticket in the United Kingdom lottery but are getting badgered with emails and phone calls that you’re a winner, contact your local police department immediately.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart warns residents not to be fooled by recent scams where “winners” are being told they are entitled to a large lottery cash prize without ever having purchased a ticket.
Read more senior crime prevention tips on avoiding of becoming a victim of ruse burglars.
During the last six months, an 80-year-old victim lost $90,000 and a 74-year-old victim lost $82,000 in the lottery scam. Both victims are from the south suburbs.
Scammers have been contacting victims, mostly senior citizens, by phone, fax, email and letter—telling them about their “jackpot.” The sheriff’s office says that some of these letters include phony seals and certificates, like the sample included with this story.
Before victims can collect their prize, money needs to be sent either via Western Union or cashier’s check to a foreign address to pay for additional taxes or handling charges.
In some instances, scammers contact the victim again and mention there was a mistake on the tax calculation and more money must be sent, Dart said.
The Cook Sheriff’s Police Department believe this lottery scam is being played out all over the country and has received numerous calls about it.
Community members can avoid becoming victims by taking the following precautions when getting unsolicited phone calls or other communications:
- You cannot win a lottery without having entered it.
- Remember, there are no upfront fees to pay for a legitimate lottery win.
- Be suspicious if contacted by a lottery agency, especially one in another country.
- If contacted by telephone, do not give any personal information such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers—no matter how nice or convincing the callers sound. Hang up immediately and contact local law enforcement.
- Review these crime prevention tips and develop a plan with aging family members on what to do should they receive unsolicited phone calls or emails trying to con them out of money or seek personal information.
- If you believe you are a victim or suspect an elderly family member of being a victim, call your local police department or Cook County Sheriff’s Police at 708-865-4896.
The Oak Lawn Police Department is also available to come and speak at senior groups on crime prevention and other safety tips to avoid becoming victims of scams and ruse burglars.