The Mega Millions jackpot has hit $1.35 before Friday’s drawing and experts warn scammers are trying to take advantage of the large prize.
If you win the jackpot, you better be completely sure. The Better Business Bureau is warning lottery players that scammers will be trying to trick them into thinking they won.
“The big Mega Millions winners will be announced on television and online,” said Melanie Duquesnel, BBB President and CEO. “Scammers will be reaching out via email, telephone, and snail mail to “inform” secondary winners of smaller prizes. Recognize the signs to protect yourself from getting scammed.”
The drawing will be held at 11 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 13). You will be able to find the results on ClickOnDetroit.com or on the official Mega Millions website.
Read: Mega Millions $1.35B drawing on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023: How to find winning numbers
How can you identify a lottery scam?
One of the biggest red flags of a lottery scam is that the target is asked to pay “taxes” or other fees upfront before they can claim their fake winnings. Once the payment is made, the target never gets their money and the scammer disappears.
In another version of the scam, the target receives a letter in the mail letting them know about a big win. Included is a check to cover the taxes on the fake winnings. The target is told to deposit the money into their bank account and then send the money to a third party -- usually by wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The lottery check is fake, it bounces, and the target is out their own money.
Read: How you can avoid becoming a victim of a fake check scam
Tips to avoid lottery scams
The BBB offers the following tips to avoid a lottery scam:
- Be careful where you buy your Mega Millions tickets. Tickets purchased in person should be at an official Michigan lottery retailer. Make sure that the retailer has appropriate signage. You can click here to find locations near you. You can also purchase tickets online at MichiganLottery.com. Type in the URL yourself, don’t trust links sent to you via email or text.
- 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 or link 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.