Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a scam alert today warning Arizonans of an aggressive fake lottery scam targeting seniors. The scam starts with a phone call from a person who falsely claims to be affiliated with Mega Millions. Seniors are told they’ve won the Mega Millions lottery and are asked to pay thousands of dollars upfront in order to claim their prize money. The scammer even offers to pick the victim up and drive them to the bank.
“This is a new, dangerous twist on an old lottery scam,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Seniors should never go to the bank to withdraw money with someone they don’t know. They should never wire money to a stranger or a business to claim a prize.”
In one case, a 90-year-old Mesa woman sent a $1,000 certified check to an address in Chicago to claim her prize money. The scammer called her back insisting she pay an additional $20,000 in fees and taxes. The victim decided not to send the money after having conversations with a bank teller and a U.S. postal worker. The scammer became more aggressive telling the victim that a lawyer would come to her house to pick her up, drive her to the bank, and help her with the bank transaction. The victim’s family intervened and reported the incident to the Attorney General’s Office. The victim’s family also reported suspicious vehicles parked near her house.
It is important to remember that once you wire money or pay with a prepaid card, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to recover your losses.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich offers these tips on avoiding lottery scams:
- Do not wire money or send prepaid cards or go to the bank with someone you do not know, even if the scammers tell you to send money to someone in the United States.
- Do not provide your bank account information, credit card information or other personal identifying information to someone who you do not know. A scam artist can use the information provided to empty bank accounts, place unauthorized charges on a credit card or commit identity theft.
- Do not deposit a “prize” check or “winnings” check and wire funds back. The check is fake and you will owe the bank any fees associated with the fake check, as well as, any money you withdrew from that check.
- Do not believe an offer that requires you to pay upfront to collect a prize. Remember, it is illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or over the phone. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office receives dozens of calls reporting various lottery scams every year. Earlier this year, the office intervened on behalf of 13 Arizona victims who were targeted in a Jamaican lottery scam. https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-issues-warning-foreign-lottery-scams