The Louisiana Lottery encourages players to recognize the signs of illegal lottery scams and protect themselves.  Most recently, the Lottery has received questions regarding an individual that may be utilizing the corporation's name to solicit money from past Lottery winners. 

Players should know that the Louisiana Lottery will never contact individuals to solicit money for any purpose.  Unfortunately, illegal lottery scams have become prevalent worldwide.  Thus, players are encouraged to protect themselves by following these tips:

1. Never believe a letter, phone call or Internet message from someone who offers you a guarantee of winning a prize.  Legitimate lotteries do not guarantee that you will win a prize. 

2. Never give your credit card numbers, bank account numbers or social security numbers over the phone or over the Internet to a business promising lottery jackpots.

3. Never accept a collect phone call from someone claiming to be a lottery official.

4. Never pay processing fees, insurance or commissions to claim a lottery prize.

5. Never trust someone who says you can win the lottery by purchasing a set of "winning numbers" instead of a ticket.

6. Never play a foreign lottery by phone, mail or Internet.

So how can you tell if a prize notification is a scam?  Here are some basic red flags:

1. You are asked to make up-front payments of processing fees, taxes or insurance in order to collect the winnings. This is the foundation upon which all scams are based. No legitimate lottery will ever require up-front payment of any kind from winners to claim a prize. Any withholdings, such as taxes, owed by the winner are deducted from the prize funds. 

2.  The notification asks you to keep your "winnings" a secret. This ploy is to keep you from sharing the information with family members who may help you realize that it's a scam.

3. You haven't purchased a ticket for the particular game or entered the particular drawing in which the prize was won. Every legitimate lottery business model requires the payment of prizes from funds collected through the sale of tickets. Even the IRS only issues refunds based on taxes already paid. Ask yourself, where did the funds come from in order to pay this prize? Did I physically enter this drawing? Remember, there is no such thing as free money.

4.  You are guaranteed that you will win a prize if you pay to join a pool. Legitimate lotteries do not require that players join a pool in order to play. Also, legitimate lotteries cannot guarantee that your ticket will win a prize. Even if there was a way to "fix the system" in order to win, this would be illegal and you would be participating in a serious crime.

5. You are asked to communicate by phone, mail or e-mail with an overseas entity in order to claim the prize. Gambling across state lines through the Internet, phone or mail is illegal for a reason -- to protect U.S. consumers. Scam artists that set up shop overseas are more difficult to prosecute.  Also, online gambling companies are not regulated and often sell their customer lists to others, including scammers.

The Lottery also produces a brochure entitled "How to Avoid Lottery Scams," which describes tactics used by scam artists operating illegal lotteries. Copies are available in Lottery play centers at retailers statewide.

To report a scam, contact the Louisiana Lottery's Security Department by calling (225) 297-2000.