🔺 NJ Lottery officials are warning about a common scam often seen on social media

🔺 Scammers pretend to be past winners offering prizes to people in exchange for info

🔺 NJ Lottery will never ask players for money upfront

With New Jersey and the rest of the country experiencing lottery fever, The New Jersey Lottery is reminding residents to beware of lottery scams.

What is the scam?

The most common scam seen is people on social media claiming to be either lottery officials or past winners, saying they’re going to offer money, prizes, or other giveaways in exchange for money upfront, New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Jim Carey said.

Those people are taking the names and pictures of former winners and pretending to be them to run a scam. It’s very common on Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media, Carey said.

Many lottery scams can happen with phone calls and with emails. It’s a classic phishing expedition, he said.

“You get an email that says you’ve won the lottery. Please contact us at this number. If a person contacts the sender of the email, the scammers will start asking for names, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other financial information. They’re not real lottery representatives,” Carey said.

They are simply trying to scam people out of money.

Carey made it clear that the New Jersey Lottery and any other lottery in the country, for that matter, is never going to ask players for money upfront. The Lottery is never going to call someone out of the blue.

NJ Lottery Powerball card
NJ Lottery Powerball card (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

What if you get one of these calls?

If someone does get a call, they need to ask themselves these very important questions.

“Is there a reason why the Lottery should be calling me? Did I recently submit a claim to the New Jersey Lottery or did I mail something to the New Jersey Lottery that would cause them to actually call me up? 99 times out of 100, the answer is going to be no,” Carey said.

The NJ Lottery does not know who is in possession of a winning ticket until they come forward to file a claim, and therefore, will never contact a winner prior to that point, he added.

The Lottery may know where the winning ticket was purchased and at what store, but they don’t know who bought the ticket.

Mega Millions Lottery/Townsquare Media illustration
Mega Millions Lottery/Townsquare Media illustration

How do you protect yourself from lottery scams?

To protect yourself against these scams, Carey said it’s important to first be aware that these scams do exist.

There must be a reason why the NJ Lottery is contacting a person.

“You are the reason why. You have initiated some contact with the NJ Lottery. If you do get contacted by someone claiming to be from the Lottery, use your head. Think about it,” Carey said.

There is never a cost or payment required to claim a lottery prize. This includes no pre-payment of taxes, no settlement of prior debts, and no fees to file a claim.

Don’t open emails or attachments.

Never provide your credit card number, personal banking information, passwords, money orders, or checks to anyone promising lottery winnings.

“When we ask for identifying information, it’s on a claim form. We handle it securely. We’re going to protect your information,” Carey said.

Only purchase tickets through an NJ Lottery retailer or registered courier service.

Do not claim a prize on behalf of someone else. There have been cases where people linger outside of stores trying to sell winning lottery tickets. It could be because they’re trying to avoid paying taxes, or it could be because they’ve already claimed the winnings, and now they’re trying to scam someone out of even more money, Carey said.

Check to be sure scratch-offs are completely unscratched and have not been tampered with at the time of purchase.

Mega Millions ticket
Mega Millions ticket (Bob Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

What if you think you were scammed?

Carey said to contact the New Jersey Lottery’s Security Unit immediately at 609-599-6100. The Security Unit takes these scams very seriously and looks into each particular scam in great detail.

Go to the NJ Lottery website. Find the phone number, and call to verify whether they called or not.

What should group players be aware of?

Group players and those in office pools should have a leader, Carey said. Most importantly, make copies of the tickets that were purchased, and distribute them to every member of the pool before the drawing. This is to make sure everyone stays friends and no one becomes suspicious in case something happens.

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