Lotto officials warn about latest hoax - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Lotto officials warn about latest hoax

SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) -

Illinois lottery officials are warning about a new type of email hoax.

The latest hoax involves emails purported to be from Illinois' recent $218.6 million Mega Millions winner.

In the email, the scammer says he will give $1.5 million to three lucky recipients, who, after responding to the email, will be asked to pay money to release one of the $1.5 million "gifts."

 "In the course of communicating with victims, scammers often claim to be law enforcement or government officials," said IL Lottery Supt. Michael Jones. "This is the first case we are aware of where the scammer claims to be a big Lottery winner who is giving away part of his Lottery fortune."  

The scam email was forwarded to Lottery officials on Thursday from a skeptical recipient, which states "I won the US Mega-Millions Lottery & have decided to make a cash donation of $1.5 Million to 3 persons. Send Names, Country and a bank check will be issued in your name."  The email had the subject line "$1,500,000.00 USD CASH DONATION!" 

The March 30, 2012 Mega Millions drawing resulted in three $218.6 million winners, including a winner from Red Bud, Illinois.

That winner was the largest in Illinois history and garnered publicity across the globe.

Given the immense publicity accorded the Red Bud win, Lottery officials said they are not surprised a scam of this nature was hatched.

In July, Lottery officials warned of another, more traditional scam involving a Chicago woman who was told via email and telephone that she won a $26 million foreign Lottery prize.

In order to "release the Lottery prize" the woman made a series of payments totaling $7,000 in hopes the bogus Lottery prize would be awarded to her. Lottery officials say it wasn't. 

"No legitimate lottery requires payment to claim a prize," said Jones.  "If a stranger contacts you via phone or email and says you won a Lottery prize, don't believe it!  It's been said before but it bears repeating:  if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is." 

According to Lottery officials, routine scam attempts include sending what appears to be a legitimate check to consumers through the U.S. postal service, with an attached letter asking the consumer to send hundreds of dollars to release the funds from the bogus check.

And, another scam involves imposters posing as "Mega Millions" game representatives who contact consumers via phone and alert them to an alleged win that requires the victim to purchase a "tax release" stamp, or incur other bogus fees to release the funds.

Promotions are explained in detail on the lottery's website.

 Lottery officials urge people to report scams to law enforcement and Lottery personnel. For more scam-prevention information, visit the "Protect Yourself" section of the Illinois Lottery Web site. 

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