Attorney General Hood Warns Mississippians of Recent Lottery Scams

October 22, 2013

Attorney General Jim Hood is warning Mississippi residents to be cautious of phoney phone marketers promising lottery winnings or bogus checks in the mail claiming you’ve been selected as a grand prize winner.

This particular scam, referred to as the lottery scam, can surface via phone, mail or email.  The standard con includes a claim that you have won something fairly significant.   The mail version of this scam may even include a check with a legitimate business name printed on it.  Many times, these checks will even contain a real routing number in order to try and initially fool the banking system, giving the appearance that the check is legitimate when in fact it will later bounce.

“Lottery scams are reported to our office just about every day,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “Cons will send out these checks hoping to convince the consumer into believing that they are getting a significant amount of money if they just cover a small amount of taxes or fees in return.  We have even had reports that these crooks claim I am going to deliver the winnings personally.  Although I liked Ed McMahon, I will not be delivering checks to people’s homes.”

Attorney General Hood advises that the best approach to these schemes is to ignore them. If you have not entered into a lottery or sweepstakes, then it is unlikely you have won one.

The Attorney General offers some basic tips to help keep you from becoming a victim of lottery or other similar scams:

  • You cannot win a legitimate lottery if you have not entered it. In      almost all cases you must purchase a ticket to enter a legitimate lottery.  If someone tells you that you’ve won a prize or contest you don’t remember entering, it’s probably a scam.
  • You never have to pay to collect winnings from a legitimate lottery.  You pay taxes AFTER you receive the winnings.
  • If you hold a winning lottery ticket, you notify the lottery (they do not notify you; not by email, not by phone, not by mail).
  • It is illegal under U.S. federal law to play ANY foreign lottery from the United States. Many other countries have similar laws.

Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of this scam or any other, should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418 or 601-359-4230. Visit www.agjimhood.com for more information.

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