David Bruce: Lottery scam back in Pennsylvania

David Bruce
Erie Times-News

A new lottery scam that originates from Jamaica is targeting Pennsylvanians.

People from across the state have been receiving calls recently from a person with a Caribbean accent, telling them they have won a Mega Million sweepstakes, or a prize from another lottery with a familiar name.

Like most lottery scams, the caller then informs the person that they must submit a payment for taxes or handling costs before receiving their winnings, Pennsylvania Lottery officials said in a news release.

There is no lottery sweepstakes and no winnings. The scammer is simply trying to steal the person’s money.

“It’s important to know that the Pennsylvania Lottery will only contact players if they won a Second-Chance Drawing, a giveaway into which a player may have submitted an entry, or to collect their winning story,” Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko said. “We never call or email people at random.”

Besides referring to actual lottery games like Mega Millions, the scammers sometimes pretend to be actual Pennsylvania Lottery employees. They find their names on the internet and make up a badge number to sound official.

Using caller ID doesn’t help much, since scammers can create a “spoofed” phone number, which makes it appear that a call is coming from the Harrisburg area, where the Pennsylvania Lottery’s headquarters in located.

How can you tell if the call you received is a possible scam? Here are some warning signs:

· You are told to pay taxes or a handling free with a prepaid debit card before receiving your money.

· You are asked for personal financial information, such as a bank account routing number.

· You’re told the supposed prize is in pounds, euros or anything other than dollars.

· An e-mail contains poor grammar or misspellings, or if a caller states they are — or sounds as if they could be — calling from outside the United States.

· You are instructed to keep the news of your supposed “win” a secret.

You are told that you can “verify” the prize by calling a certain number. That number may be part of the scam. Instead of calling it, look up the lottery or organization to find out its actual contact information, then call and ask to speak with security.

To learn more about lottery scams, visit www.palottery.com. If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local police, sheriff’s office or state police.

Talk to us

Have a consumer question you’d like us to help you with? Call David Bruce at 870-1736, send an email to david.bruce@timesnews.com or send mail to 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.