Beware! You might have received an email at some point that tells you that you’re a grand prize winner at a lottery that you may or may not have played. More likely than not such emails are scams. They are a version of a scam called “advance fee fraud”, which asks for a processing fee for the disbursement of funds. Such emails might look official, or even have the names of real organizations. Do not be fooled. These emails are not sent by any legitimate channels.

These lottery scams are related to the classic Nigerian scam, wherein victims receive an email or letter from a Nigerian prince or government agency stating that there is a large sum of money that must be hidden in the target’s bank account for some reason. The scammer will ask for money up front in order to complete the transaction.

The rules of lotteries are simple. If one has not bought a ticket, they are not eligible to win a prize. This is a telltale sign of fraud. Such scams may claim that the lottery in question is a “no ticket sold” lottery or an “email draw”. If you see any such thing, do not believe it. Such lotteries simply do not exist. The other telltale sign of fraud is that there is a fee attached in order to claim the prize. All legitimate lotteries have fees, but they simply subtract it from the prize won. Winners will never be asked to pay the fees up front.