UK Gambling Commission Issues Guidance About Lottery Scams and Fraud

  • UKGC issued new guidance about lottery-related scams on December 15
  • The guidance outlines signs of a lottery scam and ways to verify the legitimacy of a lottery
  • People who believe a lottery to be a scam can report it to Action Fraud
  • UK authorities struggle to combat some scams as they are often operating from overseas
man shaking hands but crossing fingers behind his back
The UK Gambling Commission has published guidelines on how to spot and avoid lottery scams and fraud. [Image:]

Spotting the warning signs

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued a warning to the public about possible lottery scams and fraud. This guidance, published on the UKGC website, lays out signs that a lottery might be a scam and key things to consider before entering a lottery. The UKGC tweeted out its advice on December 15:

Lottery scams do the rounds all year, but particularly during the holiday season. The UKGC wants people to look at how a lottery asks you to send money to buy tickets. This includes checking if you have to send cash overseas or call a premium rate number or an international number. Another tip is to look to see if the payment is going through a secure site or a payment service like PayPal to an individual. 

be very careful about clicking any links in e-mails

The UK’s advertising rules prohibit lotteries from making claims such as “winning will change your life,” so the UKGC says to avoid lotteries that use this type of language. The same goes for correspondence that has spelling mistakes and other inconsistencies. Finally, people should be very careful about clicking any links in e-mails. If you are going to visit a site, manually type in the web address, rather than clicking on a link.

Do your homework

If you are considering playing the lottery, the UKGC has some tips on what to verify before doing so, including making sure that the lottery operator holds either a UKGC or local authority license. If the lottery states that funds will be going toward a major charity, you can get in touch with the charitable organization to confirm that this is the case. 

For lotteries advertising on Facebook, check to see if the page has Facebook verification. Finally, avoid any lottery promotions that use exaggerated language about how much you can win. No correspondence from a reputable lottery will come from an individual’s e-mail address.

report it directly to the UKGC or to the local authority in charge

The UKGC is encouraging people who believe that a lottery might be a scam to send a report to Action Fraud. If you believe that a lottery could be illegal, you can report it directly to the UKGC or to the local authority in charge of the lottery’s jurisdiction.

Too good to be true

According to the UKGC guidance, another common form of lottery-related fraud is when you receive correspondence about a prize you have apparently won without entering the lottery. This is a way that nefarious people try to steal identities or money. No legitimate lottery will ask you to send a payment in order to receive your prize. 

The UKGC also warns people to never send any personal information or money to someone who claims that you have won a sweepstake or lottery that you have not entered. While the UKGC stated in its guidance that you can report these types of scams to Action Fraud, there is often little that the authorities in the UK can do because most of these scams operate overseas where UK authorities have little sway. 

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