The UK national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, Action Fraud, has released new data revealing that almost £1m has been stolen by lottery fraudsters over the last seven months.
Between April and October of this year, the authority received 629 complaints of lottery fraud, with 89% of those complaints mentioning well-known prize draws; almost half of the complaints were reports of fraudsters impersonating the Postcode lottery.
Splitting victims into demographics, 70% of those reported to have lost out to fraudsters were over the age of 50, with 40% of reports coming from those aged over 65.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police, said: “Criminals are experts at impersonating organisations and will mimic a number of well-known prize draws to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.
“Remember, you can’t win a draw that you haven’t entered so if you’re contacted out of the blue claiming you’ve won a prize draw but can only access these winnings by paying an advance fee: stop and think as it’s likely to be a scam. This could protect you and your money.”
Those running lottery fraud schemes ask their victims to purchase gift cards as payment so they can sell them on and redeem them. They force victims to share the serial code of the gift cards to gain access to the funds on the cards. 59% of victims were contacted via telephone, while 21% were contacted by email and 10% by post.
Action Fraud has encouraged people to never pay anybody claiming to be from a lottery organisation. Additionally, it has pointed people to the ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ campaign, which operates a ‘Stop Challenge and Protect’ protocol.
Clara Govier, Managing Director of People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Fraudsters often impersonate trusted brands like ours. Thankfully, we can all help protect ourselves, our families and neighbours by following, and sharing, some straightforward advice.
“Please remember, People’s Postcode Lottery will never ask for any kind of payment to claim a prize, you can’t win if you don’t play, and we don’t offer discount cards.
“Anyone who has any doubts about a call from someone claiming to be from the Postcode Lottery should hang up and call us on 0808 109 8765. Our customer experience team are available seven days a week to provide advice.
“We know scammers often use social media. Our official social media accounts are verified so there’ll always be a blue tick beside our name. If there isn’t, the message isn’t from us.
“Finally, we encourage anyone who believes they have been the victim of fraudsters to contact our colleagues at Action Fraud or the police.”