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Even New Brunswick’s consumer watchdog can be a target for scam artists.

Last month, the CEO of the Financial and Consumer Services Commission opened a white business envelop delivered to his home. Inside was an official-looking invitation offering him a chance to purchase shares of tickets in an “exclusive, guaranteed-win superjackpot syndicate.” The invitation suggested all winnings in the USA $100-million powerball lottery would be divided equally between each share.

The invitation asked him to respond immediately and to confirm his purchase of shares by sending his credit card information – an obvious red flag. Upon closer examination, he noticed another warning sign. While the envelope was postmarked from Prague, the invitation letter had a return address in Ireland and the supplied envelope to mail in a purchase order had a Hong Kong address.It was one of three overseas lottery offers he received in the mail last month. The other two advised him he had won the lottery and needed to send payment to collect his winnings.

How to recognize a lottery scam

  • You receive an invitation with a “guarantee” to win prizes in a lottery.
  • You must first purchase something or pay an advance fee, such as taxes, to receive the prize.
  • You are asked to provide your credit card number and other personal information to enter the lottery or claim your prize.
  • The solicitation is from a foreign country.
  • Gambling in the United States is state controlled, which means you must buy lottery tickets from a licensed retailer within a state, and you have to return to the state to collect any winnings. Third-party ticket brokers are unregulated, which means there are no guarantees you will collect your prize. In many cases, only US citizens can claim a lottery win.

What to do if you receive a lottery scam

  • Don’t respond to any mailings of this kind. It will only result in an increase in junk mail, even if you just return to sender.
  • Never reply with your credit card or personal information.

Where to report a lottery scam

Report lottery scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre  by calling 1-888-495-8501.

Learn more about how to report fraud and where to report fraud.

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