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Lottery scams 

For some consumers, the idea of winning millions of dollars in an overseas lottery is just a dream come true. Unfortunately, this type of scam can be the beginning of a nightmare.

The Spanish Lottery or El Gordo Lottery scam is one of the most common scams currently doing the rounds. While there are a variety of lottery scams in circulation they are essentially the same in that there are no prizes and any consumer who responds risks losing money and having their identity stolen.

If you receive an email or a letter advising you that you have won a huge cash prize in an overseas lottery it is almost certainly a fraud.

How the scam works

In the typical El Gordo Lottery Scam, the consumer receives a series of credible looking documents either offering tickets in an overseas lottery or advising them that they have won millions of Euros in an official lottery draw. The documents are usually addressed personally to the consumer and are often marked with things like ‘official notification’ or ‘confirmed’ or ‘verified’ in an attempt to create an authentic feel to the scam.

To collect their winnings, consumers have to pay an up-front fee to arrange for the funds to be ‘cleared’ and deposited into their bank account. Often, the initial request for advance payment is followed by demands for more money to cover unexpected expenses. 

These scams also require the consumer to provide extensive personal information and give a copy of their driver’s licence and passport to establish their identity. This information can then be used to steal their identity which can devastate their entire life.

Some of the more sophisticated lottery scams may even direct you to websites for European banks for the purposes of depositing money to clear your winnings. These bogus sites are also part of the scam and, by responding, you will be giving the scammers your personal bank account details.

What to do if you receive an overseas lottery letter

Ignore it – it is almost certainly a scam. 

Never send money or any of your personal information in response to these offers. There is almost no prospect of recovering money sent in response to one of these scams.

Remember if you didn’t buy a ticket in the lottery, you can’t win.

You can also refer the correspondence to NSW Fair Trading or report the scam through our online Report a scam form if it is not on the Recent scams list.