What's a lottery and prize scam?

Fraudsters try to trick you into a lottery and prize scam. What usually happens is that you’ll receive an unexpected notification that you’ve won a prize, but you're asked to pay a fee to claim your winnings. If you pay to claim the prize, often you won't receive it or if you do receive a prize, it's not what you expected. 

How lottery and prize scams work

  1. You receive an unexpected notification by text message, phone, mail, email or social media that you’ve won a lottery or prize. Your winnings could be anything, such as money, an all-inclusive vacation or an electronic device.
  2. You may be asked to provide your personal and banking information to prove that you’re the correct winner and to receive the prize. Your information may be used to steal your identity and money.
  3. To claim the prize, you may be asked to pay a fee to cover costs, such as insurance, taxes or bank fees.
  4. Often, your payment is taken but you don't receive a prize. If you do, it's something far less than what's promised. Sometimes, fake cheques are sent to trick you into thinking you’re receiving legitimate prize funds.

Warning signs of lottery and prize scams

  • You don’t recall entering a draw
  • You're advised to respond quickly to claim the prize or risk missing out
  • You're asked to keep your winnings confidential
  • You're required to pay a fee to claim the prize
  • You've been overpaid prize winnings and are asked to send money back

Stay safe with our tips

  • Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions before you redeem a prize. If something seems too good to be true, it often is.
  • A legitimate sweepstake is free and your odds of winning are only by chance. If you're asked to pay to enter or to increase your chances of winning, it's most likely a scam.
  • Don't act quickly to claim an unexpected prize. Take your time to make sure the prize is legitimate by researching the company, phone number and person or organization that's contacting you. If you’re unsure, ask a trusted family member or friend for their opinion.
  • Never share your personal information, including your Social Insurance Number (SIN) or banking information, like your personal identification number (PIN) or passwords with anyone.

Explore more about lottery and prize scams

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Opens in a new window.

Report fraud when it happens and track the latest data on fraud happening in Canada. 

The Little Black Book of Scams Opens in a new window.

Download the Canadian Competition Bureau's guide to scams in 8 different languages.

Canadian Bankers Association Opens in a new window.

Read about the latest news and trends in fraud awareness and prevention.