Many types of fraud take advantage of our human tendency to hope for the best and scams offering unexpected competition wins are no different. While there are several variations of the ‘unexpected winnings’ scam, they are most often are grouped into the ‘advanced fee’ type of fraud where a fee must be paid to release the prize.
Once the initial fee is sent, further fees may be requested as a complicated story is invented about why the prize can’t be released immediately.
Fake scratchie cards may be distributed in the post, with instructions to contact the competition organisers if a prize is won. To increase believability, there are often several scratchie cards in the package – most will result in no prize, but one may result in winning a second or third prize.
The payment of a fee is often framed as taxes which must be paid in order for the prize to be released. Depending on the value of the prize offered, this can be several thousand dollars. If paid, this money is unlikely to be seen again.
Lottery scams involve fake notifications that an intended victim has won a major lottery prize, with a request that a fee is paid to release the funds. Often these are overseas lotteries like the ‘Euromillions’ or the Spanish ‘El Gordo’ lottery, making it difficult for the recipient to contact the lottery organisations and verify the win. A recent variation on the scheme involved scammers gaining access to a victim’s social media accounts and then informing their relatives that they have each won. By using the trust between family members, the scammers are able to quickly spread the scam to more victims.
Holiday scams begin with a notification that the victim has won travel vouchers for a holiday in a popular destination, like Thailand or Bali. The vouchers don’t cover the cost of the whole holiday, so a further payment is required. When credit card details are provided, a large charge is placed on the card.
To keep the fraud going and ensure that the payment isn’t immediately cancelled, the scammers may provide their victims with fake tickets and an itinerary.
How to protect yourself from ‘unexpected winnings’ scams:
If you have been targeted by a scam relating to your Qudos account, visit our webpage Reporting Scams to find out who to contact.