Irish Lottery Scams
Irish lottery scams are, unfortunately, a common occurrence as criminals aim to tempt victims into parting with personal details or cash by promising big-money prizes in return. The important message to remember is that it is not possible to win a lottery you did not enter, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.
How Irish Lottery Scams Work
Scammers will usually try to convince you that you are due a prize, which they could attempt by claiming to be a representative of a game that really does exist, such as EuroMillions or Irish Lotto, or by inventing a game that sounds legitimate. One scam doing the rounds professes to be from the Irish Online Sweepstakes, clearly trading on players having heard of the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes game played from the 1930s to the 1980s, and giving the impression it is somehow connected.
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 administration relating to their own prize. Other victims could have their personal and banking information requested, putting them at risk of identity fraud.
How to Spot a Lottery Scam
- The communication is addressed to something vague like “Dear Winner” rather than to you personally.
- An email is not sent from an official account and might even come from a free mail service such as Gmail or Hotmail.
- The message contains poor spelling, grammar and syntax. Logos may be skewed and stretched and letters are often 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 warn you off from replying.
- 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.
With that in mind, it should also be noted that scammers are constantly updating their schemes and their correspondence may look a lot more professional, so you need to remain vigilant. However, if you spot any of the above, it is a sure-fire sign that you have been targeted by a scam.
Lottery scams can come by phone, letter, email or social media and can sometimes look as if they have been sent by famous former winners, offering to share out some of their fortune. Be vigilant and, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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. Even answering such a message could lead to you being deluged with further communications of a similar ilk.
Report the scam to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, which can be contacted on (01) 402 5555 between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday.
If you have already communicated with what you suspect is a scammer, immediately inform your bank and the Gardaí, who will be able to advise you on the next steps to take.