An e-mail message tells you that you have won millions of euro in a lottery abroad. It includes a thorough account of why you have won the award even though you did not submit an entry, explaining that the drawing took place using e-mail addresses found on the Internet. The lottery company has a foreign name that sounds impressive and official, such as "International Lotto Commission". You are told that the award is yours as soon as you take care of a few harmless formalities.
The scheme is basically the same as in "Nigerian letters" (see "Fabricated pleas for help"): before you can receive your award, you are asked to go to the link provided and enter your personal details, then pay a certain amount in order to transfer or claim the award, then pay a slightly larger amount in taxes, etc.
It is a scam, however – similar junk messages are sent to countless people every day. If you agree to pay, the award you have been promised never materializes and you can never get back the money you put up in advance. Real gaming companies do not ask participants to pay a fee in order to claim an award.Another variation of the same scam is an official-looking letter sent to your home from abroad with notification of an award. The letter might be sent in the name of "El Gordo" or "Loteria Primitiva" of Spain, for example.
- There is no need to reply to the letters or e-mails, to click on any links, or to open attachments. The e-mails can be deleted just like any other junk mail.
- If you have not entered any drawings, you cannot get any winnings. No legitimate lottery awards prizes by drawing from among e-mail addresses or approaches people who have not paid money to enter a lottery.
- Do not send account numbers, passport details or credit card information to unknown parties in order to "verify your identity".