Latest Email Scam Promises Bogus $2.5 million Prizes

Lottery Scam Alert

For Immediate Release Contact: Mike Lang, Illinois Lottery 217-524-5158

SPRINGFIELD, IL-January 17, 2013²Lottery officials today warned consumers of a new email scam making the rounds.  Four recipients of the scam email²which promises to award $2.5 million to the "lucky" recipient and two others--have contacted the Lottery's Springfield office so far this week.

The subject line of the bogus email reads:  "Congratulations you have won"

"Unfortunately, these types of scams are a regular occurrence," said Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones. "Although common sense prevails in most instances, there are some who, despite our regular warnings, respond to these types of spurious offers. Once contact has been established, the scammers do everything in their power to appear legitimate, eventually asking the recipient to make payments in order to release the bogus prize."

The latest email scam begins by listing the Lottery's Springfield business address. It then makes the following claim. "Your email address emerged alongside 2 others as a 2nd category winner in this year's Annual Online Promotion Draw. Your email has won US$2,500,000 United States Dollars in the Illinois Sweepstake Lotto U.S.A ©2013."

The email continues, listing two contact methods (email and phone) and asking the recipient to select their preferred means of claiming the prize.

The elderly and recent immigrants are most vulnerable to these scams, which have in the past evoked the names of actual Lottery winners, including the Red Bud Illinois man who won $218.6 million in last March's record $656 million Mega Millions drawing.

Last July, the Lottery warned of another, more traditional scam involving a Chicago woman who was told via email and telephone that she won a $26 million foreign Lottery prize.  In order to "release the Lottery prize" the woman made a series of payments totaling $7,000 in hopes the bogus Lottery prize would be awarded to her (it wasn't).

"In the course of communicating with victims, scammers often claim to be law enforcement or government officials, they're not," said Jones, who reminds everyone that no legitimate lottery requires payment to claim a prize.

Other routine scam attempts include sending what appears to be a legitimate check to consumers through the U.S. postal service, with an attached letter asking the consumer to send hundreds of dollars to release the funds from the bogus check.  Yet another recent scam involves impostors posing as "Mega Millions" game representatives who contact consumers via phone and alert them to an alleged win that requires the victim to purchase a "tax release" stamp or incur other bogus fees to release the funds.

Lottery prizes up to $600 can be claimed at most Lottery retail locations; prizes over $600 may be submitted to one of five Lottery prize centers located across Illinois, including the Lottery's claims office in Springfield. The Lottery does periodically offer 2  nd-chance drawings, under which players who submit non-winning tickets can win prizes. These promotions are explained in detail on the lottery's

Lottery officials urge people to report scams to law enforcement and Lottery personnel. For more scam- prevention information, visit the "Protect Yourself" section of the Illinois Lottery Web site at the following link:

Anyone with questions about Illinois Lottery games and rules can contact the Lottery Player Hotline at 800-252-1775, or visit; Scam attempts can be reported to 217-524-5158.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan offers an "Every Cent Counts Guide," which include tips on how to avoid falling victim to lottery or counterfeit check scams. More information is available at the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division which operates from three Illinois offices:  Chicago: 800-386-5438; Springfield: 800-243-0618; Carbondale: 800-243-0607

Internet fraud complaints may be filed at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Other helpful tips for protecting yourself against scammers are below:

If someone stops you on the street and says they have won a Lottery prize that cannot be claimed due to their status as a non-U.S. citizen, beware.  They will likely try to sell you the Lottery ticket (which they say is a big winner--but is not) at a discounted price, and drive you to your bank to withdraw your money to pay for the bogus ticket.

You cannot win a lottery for which you did not buy tickets. If you receive a "winner" notice for a drawing you never entered, be suspicious. Never give money or valuables to a stranger to redeem a lottery prize. "Good faith" money or banking information is never required by the Illinois Lottery to claim a prize.

Be dubious of anyone claiming to be a Lottery official giving away money or merchandise.  The only possible exception would be if you entered a legitimate Lottery 2 nd-chance drawing (by submitting non- winning tickets) or made a purchase on the Lottery's internet portal. In these cases, however, the Lottery may contact you but would never ask for money in conjunction with making a claim.

Never reveal your credit card and/or bank information to anyone unless you are certain the contact is legitimate and from a reputable company with whom you have a long-term relationship. The Illinois Lottery only requires credit card information when you contact them directly to purchase or renew a Mega Millions, Lotto or Little Lotto subscription.


About Illinois Lottery

Founded in 1974, the Illinois Lottery has contributed over $20 billion to the state’s Common School Fund to assist K-12 public schools, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars to the Capital Projects Fund and to special causes like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research, and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to playing in-store, the Illinois Lottery offers online and mobile play for Mega Millions, Powerball and Lotto at Players must be at least 18 years old.