Lottery or prize scams follow two similar patterns:
1) Victims get an unsolicited phone call, email, letter or fax from someone claiming to work for a government agency or representing a well-known organization or celebrity, notifying them that they've won a lot of money or a prize. The scammer gains their trust and explains that, in order to collect the winnings, they first have to send a small sum of money to pay for processing fees or taxes. Following these instructions, victims immediately wire the money, but never get their "winnings." And they're out the money they paid for "fees and taxes."
2) Victims get an unsolicited check or money order and directions to deposit the money, and immediately wire a portion of it back to cover processing fees or taxes. Soon after this, victims learn that the checks are counterfeit, but have already wired the money to cover the "taxes" and can't get it back. And they're on the hook to pay their banks back for any money they withdrew.