(PIERRE, SD) - The South Dakota Lottery is warning the public to be on guard against a scam in which individuals are being asked to pay money to collect a lotto prize.
In recent days, the Lottery has been notified by several people who say they were contacted by an individual claiming to be with the Mega Millions lotto game. The caller allegedly told the person they had won a Mega Millions cash prize but could not claim their winnings without making a payment first. In one case, the individual contacted did pay the scammer then contacted the South Dakota Lottery to complain that they had not received their prize.
Lottery Executive Director Norm Lingle says scam operations such as this are not uncommon; he cautions South Dakota players to be careful.
"Some of these scammers even go so far as to use real game names and logos of legitimate lotteries to make their pitch sound more convincing. They also sometimes provide a contact name or phone number that when called back, will lead to an answering machine or be routed to a remote location," Lingle said. "An easy rule of thumb is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Lingle offers the public some tips on how to recognize and avoid a scam:
- Never accept a collect phone call from someone claiming to be a lottery official.
- Never cash or claim a lottery ticket for someone you don't know.
- Never give your credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or other personal information to anyone trying to sell you a lottery ticket, membership in a lottery pool, or promising a prize.
- Beware of letters, email or phone calls offering you a guaranteed prize. The South Dakota Lottery does not guarantee you a prize, only a chance of winning one.
- Beware of "urgent" solicitations that require a quick response.
- Buy lottery tickets only from authorized South Dakota Lottery retailers.
The public is also reminded that the South Dakota Lottery does not:
- Require a winner to pay money upfront to claim a prize.
- Require personal information such as social security numbers or bank account numbers from winners over the phone. Prizes of $101 or more must be claimed at a South Dakota Lottery office using an official claim form.
- Require a short response time to cash or claim a winning ticket. Winners have 180 days to claim their prize, regardless of the game.
- Enter someone into a drawing, promotion for an added bonus or prize, or for any other reason without their knowledge.
If you have been contacted as part of the current Mega Millions or any scam, you are advised to report the scam to the S.D. Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.