Many Canadians find themselves becoming scam victims, thanks to the excitement of a surprise win or to claim prizes from fake lotteries, sweepstakes or contests. In 2014, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 4,400 Canadian complaints of prize or lottery fraud. Of those, 652 people were victimized to the tune of more than $4.3-million. Police believe 95 per cent of victims never report the crime.
Phone calls, an e-mail, text messages and pop-up messages on your computer or laptop may make claims that the offer is legal and that there are relatively minor costs to claim the ‘big’ prize. By responding, you may lose everything you send to a scammer and – if you have provided other personal details – your identity information could be stolen to support other crimes.
Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch encourage everyone to leverage their social media interactions by using #dontbeavictim #fraudprevention and #OPPtips to help others identify and report fraud.
If you have been approached to pay a fee to claim a lottery or other type of prize, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/ .
Tips to help you recognize a lottery or prize scam.
- Never send money to anybody you don’t know and trust.
- Don’t provide personal banking details to anyone that you do not know and trust.
- Examine all of the terms and conditions of any offer very carefully. Claims of free or very cheap offers often have hidden costs. Calls to premium rate phone numbers or premium text messages can be very expensive.
- Ask yourself, “Did I willingly enter this contest?”