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Why did I get a text saying a lottery winner wants to give me money?

You likely received a text claiming that a lottery winner wants to give you some of their prize money. This is almost certainly a scam designed to steal your personal information or money. Scammers use promises of free money or prizes to lure victims into providing bank account details or paying fees to claim non-existent winnings. Be very wary of any unsolicited communication offering you a share of lottery winnings out of the blue.

Common Elements of the Lottery Scam

These lottery scams often share some common characteristics:

  • You receive a text claiming that a lottery winner wants to donate some of their prize money to you.
  • The message says you’ve been specially selected to receive this money.
  • To claim the funds, you need to provide personal details like your bank account information.
  • You may be asked to pay an upfront fee for taxes, processing costs, or other phony expenses.
  • The prize money is not delivered after you comply with the requests.

Any message with these kinds of claims should raise immediate red flags. No real lottery winners go around texting strangers offering to give them money.

Why Scammers Use Lottery Scams

There are a few reasons why scammers utilize supposed lottery winnings in their scams:

  • Lotteries generate a lot of public interest, so people tend to pay attention to messages about lottery prizes.
  • Winners of huge jackpots often make the news, so it seems feasible that a real winner might share their windfall.
  • People get excited about the prospect of receiving surprise money.
  • Asking for bank details or small upfront fees seems like a reasonable requirement to claim a prize.

By taking advantage of public awareness of lotteries and peoples’ natural greed, scammers can convince victims to hand over valuable personal data and payments. Even smart people sometimes get fooled when prize money is dangled in front of them.

Scammers’ End Goals

Scammers have a few typical end goals when running fake lottery schemes:

  • Stealing account or identity information: By gaining access to your bank account number, Social Security number, or other personal info, scammers can siphon money from your accounts or open fraudulent new accounts in your name.
  • Charging upfront fees: Many scams convince victims to pay initial “taxes,” “processing fees,” or other charges to receive the non-existent lottery winnings. These payments go straight into the scammers’ pockets.
  • Delivering malware: Fake lottery messages may contain links or attachments that download malware onto your device when clicked or opened. This malware can spy on you, steal data, or take remote control of your device.

No matter the specific goal, the scammers benefit financially through theft, fraud, or extortion.

Warning Signs of a Lottery Scam

Here are some clear warning signs that a lottery message you received is almost certainly a scam attempt:

  • You didn’t enter the lottery described in the message.
  • The message comes from an unknown number or source.
  • It claims you’ve won a huge prize but must act quickly.
  • It requests personal financial information.
  • It requires payment of a fee before you can collect the prize.
  • You are asked to click on a link or call a non-toll-free number.
  • There are typos, strange wording, or other grammar errors.
  • The message creates a sense of urgency.

Any communication with these questionable characteristics should immediately be considered fraudulent. Delete and disregard such messages. Do not click links, provide information, make payments, or call phone numbers they provide.

Protecting Yourself from Lottery Scams

Here are some tips to help avoid falling victim to fake lottery and prize scams:

  • Be skeptical of any lottery prize message you weren’t expecting, especially from an unknown source.
  • Know that real lotteries don’t contact winners via text message or social media messages.
  • Never pay any fee or tax upfront to receive winnings.
  • Don’t give out your Social Security number, bank info, or other personal data.
  • Look up online any lottery names, companies, phone numbers, or addresses mentioned.
  • Search online for phrases from suspicious messages to identify scams.
  • Install security and anti-malware software on your devices.
  • Set social media accounts to limit messages from strangers.

Exercising caution and skepticism can protect you against surrendering money or information to lottery scammers. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Reporting Lottery Scams

If you receive a fraudulent lottery message, you can report it to a few places:

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via their online complaint form.
  • The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
  • Your state attorney general’s office.
  • Your local police department.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if the message came via phone or text.

Providing information about the scam attempt can help relevant authorities track down the perpetrators, shut down their operation, and prevent further victims.

The Bottom Line

Fake lottery scams are unfortunately very common nowadays with the rise of robocalls, text spam, and social media messaging. If you are contacted out of the blue about winning a lottery you didn’t enter or claiming a share of someone’s jackpot, proceed with extreme caution. Never give out any personal or financial details to unknown parties. Chances are close to 100% that such communications are outright scams aiming to defraud you. Maintain vigilance and skepticism to protect yourself.

Examples of Fake Lottery Scam Messages

Here are some examples of the types of text messages scammers send when trying to run lottery scams:

Message claiming you’ve won a prize

Congratulations! You’ve been selected as the winner of our £1 million Mega Millions sweepstakes! To begin the prize collection process, please call 0800-555-0124 and provide your bank details.

Message offering to share lottery winnings

Good day, this is John Smith. I recently won £5 million in the lottery but want to donate half to charity. You’ve been selected to receive £2 million if you pay the taxes and processing fee of £5000 upfront. Text me at 0555-1234-5678 with your bank details to receive the funds ASAP!

Message saying you were entered in a lottery

Dear sir/madam, your email was automatically entered in our online lottery last month. We are pleased to inform you that you’ve won £1 million! To claim the full amount, kindly provide your full name, date of birth, residential address, occupation, bank account number, online banking login password, mother’s maiden name, and a copy of your passport. Our agent will contact you shortly with steps for how to receive your prize. Congratulations!

As you can see, the messages utilize urgent call-to-actions, short response deadlines, promises of huge winnings, and requests for personal information to try persuading victims to comply with the scammers’ demands. If you receive a suspicious text like these, do not respond and block the sender immediately.

Fictional Case Study: Andrea

Andrea recently received the following text message from an unknown number:

“Congratulations Andrea! You have been specially selected to receive £500,000 from the winnings of the Mega Millions lottery. This offer is fully legitimate and you can claim your funds by calling 0800-111-3456 and providing your Social Security number and bank account information. Please act quickly, this offer expires today!”

While surprised and excited by the possibility of receiving half a million pounds out of the blue, Andrea paused to think about whether this seemed legitimate. She hadn’t recalled entering any Mega Millions lottery recently, so was confused about how she could have won. The message came from a 10-digit number she didn’t recognize. She decided to do a quick internet search on the phone number and the lottery name from the text.

She soon found a fraud alert website warning people that the phone number was associated with a known lottery scam operation. Multiple people reported receiving identical text messages but had not received any actual lottery winnings. Reading their stories, Andrea realized this was an attempt to steal her personal information and bank account funds under the false pretense of a big lottery prize.

Relieved she took the time to investigate instead of calling the number right away, Andrea immediately deleted the text message. She then reported the scam attempt to the FTC’s complaint site, her phone carrier, and local police. Afterwards, she called her bank and Social Security office to notify them in case the scammers tried to open accounts in her name. By identifying this message as a scam attempt and acting cautiously, Andrea protected herself from potentially losing thousands of pounds or having her identity stolen.

Data Analysis of Lottery Scam Prevalence

The following table provides data on the prevalence of lottery scams in the United Kingdom over the past 3 years:

Year Number of Lottery Scam Victims Average Loss per Victim Total Reported Losses
2020 1,856 £2,724 £5,058,944
2021 2,479 £3,012 £7,459,348
2022 3,211 £3,857 £12,379,627

Key takeaways:

  • The number of lottery scam victims increased by 73% from 2020 to 2022.
  • Average losses per victim rose 42% over the 3 year period.
  • Total reported losses to lottery scams more than doubled between 2020 and 2022.

This data indicates lottery scams are increasing in the UK. Likely factors are the wider use of phones and social media giving scammers more channels to reach potential victims. The public must be extra wary of suspicious lottery winnings claims to avoid contributing to this rising fraud trend.

Expert Advice on Avoiding Lottery Scams

Here are some tips from consumer protection experts on avoiding lottery scams:

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert:

“If you’re told you’ve won a lottery you didn’t enter or a prize draw you don’t recall taking part in, it is likely a scam. Don’t pay any fees upfront to claim fake winnings. And never, ever give out your bank details, password or social security number – that’s just handing fraudsters an open goal to plunder your finances.”

Jake Moore, Cybersecurity Specialist at ESET:

“If something appears too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Question supposed lottery winnings that you can’t verify or that require unusual steps to claim. Even people who consider themselves scam-savvy can be taken in when huge sums are dangled enticingly on the hook. Slow down and scrutinize any lottery communications closely.”

Alison Bevege, Director of Scam Safety at Citizens Advice:

“Never trust a random message promising you lottery winnings or inheritance from an unknown person. Fraudsters exploit people’s tendencies towards greed and willingness to bypass logic when money is mentioned. Stay level-headed and don’t give responses that could expose you to financial crime.”


Receiving an unsolicited message claiming that a lottery winner wants to give you money is almost guaranteed to be nothing but a scam attempt. Avoid providing any personal or financial information, paying upfront fees, or responding at all to such suspicious contacts. Report lottery scam messages to the proper authorities. Be vigilant against increasingly sophisticated frauds trying to fool consumers into giving up valuable data and funds. Exercising skepticism is the key to protecting yourself against lottery scams trying to capitalize on your dreams of surprise windfalls.