The Pennsylvania Lottery has warned its citizens of a lottery scam that has taken place in recent weeks, with the announcement further highlighting the growing problems of fraud calls during the global health pandemic.

In this occasion the scammer claims that the person has won the ‘Mega Millions’ sweepstakes, or that they have won a prize from a well-known Lottery game. The call would then continue with the scammer encouraging the caller to make a payment in the form of taxes or other costs in order to process the prize.

Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko stated: “Unfortunately, these types of scams are quite common — especially during times of crisis, such as a pandemic, when people may be vulnerable.

“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. We never call or email people at random.”

As Svitko alluded to scam calls have started to increase during the crisis, with many scammers also falsely claiming to represent a lottery organization, going as far as posing as real employees whose names can be found through the Internet, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery. 

“We encourage players who may receive suspicious lottery-related calls or emails to contact us and we can answer any questions they may have,” Svitko added. “Our website contains a contact page to help players reach our headquarters office and our area offices across Pennsylvania.”

Following the news the Pennsylvania Lottery has released a list of guidelines to help decipher if the call is fraudulent to ensure that anybody contacted by scammer is aware of its scheme.

These signs include: 

  • Being told to buy a prepaid debit card to pay an up-front “processing fee” or taxes.
  • Being asked for personal financial information, such as bank account numbers.
  • If you’re told the supposed prize is in pounds, euros, or anything other than dollars (For US lotteries).
  • If an email 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.
  • If you are instructed to ensure that the news of your supposed “win” is kept secret.
  • If you are told that you can “verify” the prize by calling a certain number. Instead of calling it, look up the lottery or organization on your own to find out its real contact information, then call and ask to speak with security.