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Irish Lottery Scams

Lottery scams are common around the world and Ireland is no exception. These scams all have the same aim – to illegally extract money and personal information from unwitting targets. There are, however, many ways to protect yourself against such scams and once armed with the correct information you will find them much easier to spot.

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If there's one thing to remember, it's that you cannot win a prize in a lottery that you did not enter. If you receive a notification informing that you have won a prize in a game you did not play, it is a scam.

How Irish Lottery Scams Work

Lottery scams come in different forms but the most common type will tell you that you’ve won a big lottery prize and that you need to provide some personal details and pay a fee to claim it. The senders of these scams will usually claim to be representatives of genuine lotteries, such as EuroMillions or Irish Lotto.

You will often be asked to send a fee to cover administration or taxes on the ‘prize’ before it can be transferred to you, which is a sure sign it is a scam. Irish lottery players do not pay taxes on lottery winnings and no official lottery requires winners to fund the administrative costs of their own payout. Other victims could have their personal and banking information requested, putting them at risk of identity fraud.

How to Spot a Lottery Scam

Fortunately, there are a few ways to identify a lottery scam. If you receive a prize notification look for the following characteristics:

  • The message is not addressed to you by name but starts with a vague salutation, such as “Dear Winner.”
  • The email is not sent from an official account. Scams are often sent from free mail services such as Gmail or Hotmail.
  • The message contains poor spelling, grammar and syntax.
  • Logos may be skewed and stretched, and letters may be printed using badly photocopied letterheads.
  • The scammer requires you to respond within a short period of time and requests you do not tell anyone else about it. This is to stop you seeking advice from others who may spot the scam.
  • You are asked to keep the win a secret. Legitimate lottery providers would never ask you to do this, but scammers make this request – usually ‘for security’ – to ensure no one else spots the scam for what it is.
  • You might be asked to phone a premium phone line to claim your award. You can recognise these numbers as they all begin with 15 in Ireland.

You should not, however, trust a message just because it does not include any of these signs. If you don’t know or trust the sender don’t disclose any personal details and don’t pay any fees. Seek out the official lottery operator to find out if the message is genuine.

Phone scams are also common and in those cases the above points may not apply. If you are ever contacted by telephone to be told that you have won a lottery prize, be extremely cautious. If the caller pressures you into disclosing personal information or paying to receive your prize money, it is almost certainly a scam.

The best thing to do is hang up the phone and find the contact details of the lottery provider the call supposedly originated from. Do not under any circumstances give away personal details, bank details, or pay a fee over the telephone unless you are 100 percent sure you know who’s on the other end of the line.

What to Do if You Have Been Targeted

Real lotteries do not contact you out of the blue to inform you of prizes you have won in games that you haven’t entered. If you do receive a message informing you of a prize in this manner, do not give out banking or credit card details to third parties and avoid providing personal information that would make it easy for them to steal your identity.

Report the scam to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which can be contacted on (01) 402 5555 between 9:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Friday.

If you have already disclosed banking or other financial information, or you have already paid a fee to the scammer, immediately inform your bank and the Gardaí, who will be able to advise you on the next steps to take.