Don’t Get Hoodwinked: Virginia Lottery Warns Players Of Lotto Scams

Written By Dann Stupp on March 1, 2022 - Last Updated on August 4, 2022
Lottery scams

With lottery scams on the rise, the Virginia Lottery is warning players to be on guard and to remember the golden rule of betting.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s the message VA Lottery officials are leaving with potential lotto players.

After all, fraudsters are back at it. Their chosen scam isn’t anything new, and if we’re being honest, it lacks points for creativity.

But over the years, it’s proven effective, if nothing else.

Lottery scams? Don’t even need to play the lotto

Imagine your shock and elation when you get a phone call saying you’ve won the lottery.

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams are finally a reality.

The excitement might make you forget to ask the most obvious questions. Namely: Did I even play the lottery? And why would they be calling me about the prize?

Your spidey sense should flare up even further when the voice on the other line tells you that you first need to pay a fee or a tax to get your money. These “advance fee schemes” are so common that the FBI, as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, have entire sections of their website devoted to them.

As Virginia Lottery Public Affairs Specialist John Hagerty warned players:

“If you’ve won, then taxes or fees – or in Virginia, if you owe outstanding fines or penalties – that’s all taken out of the prize. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. I know it’s very seductive to hear those words, ‘You’ve won the lottery,’ but don’t suspend your better judgment.”

This tried-and-true swindle has been a go-to favorite for phone scammers since shortly after Alexander Graham Bell first beckoned Thomas Watson.

However, as technology has evolved, so too have the swindlers’ tools. In addition to phone calls, the crooks are now using emails, texts, social media posts and even old-fashioned snail mail to bilk folks with the lottery scam.

How to avoid a lottery swindle

If you win the Virginia Lottery or any other prize from a state lotto, they’re not going to call to congratulate you.

They’re also not going to call to get your details. And they’re definitely not going to ask you to pay a tax or fine or finder’s fee.

This isn’t true of just the VA Lottery, though. All lotteries operate this way. So whether it’s the Virginia Lottery or the Maryland Lottery – or even international lottos – don’t expect a direct call or message. (Especially if you never bought a ticket for that lotto in the first place.)

Also, if you’re not sure, you can always contact the lottery directly. Drop into a VA Lottery Customer Service Center, or call VA Lottery Headquarters directly at (804) 692-7000.

And remember: Purchase your tickets only at authorized Virginia Lotto retailers. Or, better yet, play your favorite games from the comfort of your home with the Virginia Lottery online.

In recent months, lottery officials have made almost all of its most popular games available to play online.

From lotto staples such as Pick 3 and Pick 4 to mega-jackpot games such as Mega Millions and Powerball to exclusive instant-win digital games, the VA Lottery online has it all.

Photo by Shutterstock / r.classen
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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