A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KY Lottery warns: As huge jackpots loom, be on the lookout for scammers — and play responsibly

As jackpot drawings for this week teeter near the $1 billion mark – tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot stands at an estimated $654 million and tomorrow’s Powerball jackpot is an estimated $345 million – the Kentucky Lottery has two reminders for players.

Players are urged to keep their odds of winning in perspective – the odds of hitting tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot are one in 302,575,350. “Does that mean you can’t win? Absolutely not,” said the Kentucky Lottery’s Senior Vice President of Communications Chip Polston.  “Just ask Ashley Eggen from Elizabethtown, who just less than two week won $1 million on the game by purchasing a single ticket,” he said. Polston added players are reminded to play responsibly and to not spend more than they can afford.
Large jackpot runs like this bring scammers out in full force. The key to not falling victim is this – THE KENTUCKY LOTTERY, NOR ANY OTHER LOTTERY, WILL NEVER CALL OR EMAIL YOU TO SAY YOU’VE WON A GAME’S GRAND PRIZE.
“I always remind people we don’t take your phone number or email address when you buy a ticket, so how would we know to contact you?” said Polston.
Lottery staff encountered one such case just yesterday. They were contacted by a gentleman asking if he really had to open a second bank account in order to obtain his prize.

“After we started peeling back the story, he told us he’d received a call that he’d won and was instructed to open a second account. We were able to quickly get him to contact his bank to close the account, and he lost no money – but was very close,” said Polston. “And the poor guy admitted he hadn’t even bought a ticket.”
Scammers typically work in one of two ways – they want players to pre-pay “taxes” on a prize before it’s delivered (which never happens), or they request access to bank accounts in order to “wire” prize money. Instead, they wipe the accounts of all available funds.
Polston said these groups can get incredibly creative. “I spoke with a woman a while back who said the scammers told her they were in a van at the end of her street with her cash, and even described her house and neighborhood to her so she would believe their story. In fact, they were simply using Google Earth to see what her house and surrounding area looked like. They urged her to quickly withdraw and send funds to them, as they would be moving onto another person in 30 minutes,” Polston said. “Fortunately we were able to convince her it was a scam.”
“I’ve spoken with presidents of banks who have come close to falling for these ruses, as they’re very convincing,” said Polston. “Everyone wants to win.”
For more info on fake lottery scams, go to megamillions.com/lottery-scams.

Kentucky Lottery

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