With Powerball mania sweeping the nation ahead of Wednesday’s record $1.5 billion drawing, lottery officials in multiple states are warning the public about Powerball ticket scams.
Officials with the Florida Lottery warned a scam website appeared to be selling shares of Powerball tickets online. The site, ‘USA Powerball Syndicate,’ offered players a chance to buy shares of tickets, with any winnings divided equally between each share, lottery officials said.
Under Florida law, players cannot buy any lottery tickets over the internet, by phone, or by mail. Tickets must be purchased at an authorized retailer.
The Better Business Bureau warned lottery scams were among the most popular in 2015.
‘Typically, targets of a lottery scam are asked to pay ‘taxes’ or other fees upfront before thay can claim their ‘winnings,” the Better Business Bureau said in a news release. ‘Of course, once they make the payment (or several payments), the big prize never materializes and the scammers are nowhere to be found.’
How to spot lottery scams
The nonprofit organization released the following tips to avoid lotto scams:
- Don’t pay up to claim your prize. You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of requests to send money via wire, prepaid debit card, gift card or other unusual forms of payment.
- Be wary of email announcements. Major sweepstakes organizations sometimes email about smaller prizes, but for big winners they usually show up at your house with a big check (and a camera crew).
- You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you’ve been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.
- Verify — but not by using a source the scammers give you. Check if an offer is real, but don’t call the phone number in the email or website you suspect may be a scam. If it is a con, chances are the person on the other line will be involved, too.