Scam Alert -- A Million Bucks from a Lotto Winner? Yeah, It's a Scam

Sweepstakes Con Gets a Real Life Twist
May 14, 2015

Scammers have given a classic lottery scam a cunning new twist by drawing on the real life story of a Mega Millions winner. Watch out for emails claiming that a recent lottery winner is giving you part of his fortune. It's really just a con. 

How the Scam Works:

You get an email that appears to come from a man named Harold Diamond. Mr. Diamond is a retired principal who won the largest Mega Millions jackpot in New York lottery history this winter. 

The email says Mr. Diamond is giving away part of his new fortune to five randomly selected people. You are so lucky! You've been chosen to receive a million dollars.  To collect the fortune, email Diamond's lawyer and mention a verification code number. The code will prove that you are official, and the lawyer will have further instructions. 

Don't do it! This scam may draw on current events, but it's a classic con. If you contact the "lawyer," he will ask for money under the guise of paying taxes or other fees.  No matter how much you send, it won't be enough! 

Tips to Protect Yourself From a Sweepstakes Scam:

Lottery and sweepstakes scams are common. Here are tips to avoid them: 

  • 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 wiring money or using a prepaid debit card.  
  • 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 scammers give you. Check if an offer is real, but don't call the phone number 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.
  • The only legal lotteries in the United States are the official state-run lotteries. Foreign lotteries are illegal.    

For More Information

Learn more about sweepstakes scams on BBB's Consumer News and Opinion Blog. To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (