Fraudulent lottery scams that lure unsuspecting people in with promises of huge wins are becoming more commonplace in this day and age than ever before, but why is it that people still fall victim to these schemes so easily?
What Are They?
Lottery scams, in particular, use a bait of telling their intended victims that they have won a large sum of money on a lottery game. Usually, this message comes in the form of a well-crafted email, letter or a text message. This is to avoid the fraudster having to speak directly to the victims and also allows them to target a large mass of victims simultaneously. The victims are then asked to fill in personal information or bank details to allow the winnings to be claimed. Some scams will even request a release fee to be paid to trigger the winning amount.
There is always one starting point that fraudsters begin with when they set about pulling off a lottery scam. They target those individuals that are most vulnerable and more likely to be susceptible to fall prey to such schemes.
Who Do They Target and Why?
The immediate categories of individuals that spring to mind include those that are suffering from dire financial issues, individuals that have a history of gambling, those that are elderly and not very aware about how technology works who will treat the winning claim at face value, and those who are lonely and see any type of social interaction as a positive action.
If you look at these main target groups then it is simple to see how they get sucked in by the promise of a big win. Individuals with financial problems will sometimes ignore common sense in the midst of their desperation. In the same way that a gambling addict will attempt to gamble even more to get out of their huge gambling debt. There is no logic to it. The desperation overrides the decision-making. Those that have a history of gambling might also think that they have signed up for a raffle or lottery draw through a gambling site they signed up to.
Elderly people might not fully understand how technology can help manipulate paperwork and documents to the level that they can. If an elderly person was to see what appeared to be an official document claiming they had won a lottery prize and all they had to do to claim the prize was confirm their personal details then there is no reason for them to think anything dodgy is going on.
Then there are the people that are just lonely. A lack of social interaction can change the way they see things and alter their depiction of certain things. They might see any form of communication as a good thing and will fail to be sceptical about such schemes.
Online Scams On The Rise!
The evolution of the internet has allowed such scams to gain wider access to more potential victims. Statistics suggest that a staggering 35% of lottery scams are attempted via email. 12% are tried by phone with 12% through text message, and 9% through the mail. The remaining 32% are via methods including social networking, in person, and mobile phone apps.
A frightening fact is that improved technology has allowed fraudsters to manipulate graphics to a level where they can use real-life big brand lottery games and replicate them so that the communications appear genuine.
Examples of Lottery Scams
There are a few examples of high-profile lottery scams. One scam used the Spanish El Gordo lottery to try and con its victims. Victims were informed that they had won a lump sum of $615,810 on the lottery game from the 29th of April, 2005 due to sharing the main prize of $10.4 million between 17 international winners. Victims are then asked to ring a contact line to claim their prize.
A second example is the UK National Lottery scam. This was an email that was text-based and told victims they had won £1.5 million from the draw on April 25th, 2007. Victims are then again asked to email the processing agent Phil Smith with their personal details to claim the win.
Another example is the Australian Lotto Inc scam from March 1, 2007, where an email tells victims they have won a share of $800,000 on a lottery draw that randomly selected email addresses from across the world via the world wide web directory. Personal details and financial information are required for this one with victims asked to contact a processing agent.
Will People Ever Stop Falling For Lottery Scams?
The scary thing about these lottery scams is that they are difficult to disprove in their most ingenious forms. Anyone with a sound knowledge of how lottery games work will understand that the methods of communication are not realistic, but individuals that do not have experience of playing the lottery will not necessarily be aware of such factors.
Lottery scams set a tone and layout to ensure that they look as real and genuine as possible. They then target vulnerable individuals who will, for one reason or another, want to believe the content of the communication.
Even the most ridiculous scams can appear believable to those that simply want to think they are true. Some people even approach these scams with a “nothing to lose” attitude. It appears that these scams are here to stay until people stop falling victim to them, but that does not look like it’s happening any time soon.