In an effort to increase awareness of lottery scams, the Louisiana Lottery warns players of a new scam illegally utilizing the name and logo of the National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) on "prize notice" letters circulating throughout the country. NASPL is a lottery trade association and does not conduct lotteries or pay lottery prizes.

The letter also includes the names and logos of well-known and respected retail brands. Scammers use such marks, hoping to add credibility to their scam and fool the victim. The letters are usually accompanied with a Bank of America check for $4,800 as a partial "prize payment" and request that the "winner" send the scammer a "processing fee" of $2,800 within 24 hours. The checks are fakes, but the victim usually does not discover this until after they've sent in the fee. Of course, the prize money never arrives.

The Lottery offers players the following tips to recognize and avoid becoming a victim of a scam:

1.Never pay processing fees, taxes, insurance or commissions to claim a lottery prize.Legitimate lotteries do not 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.If you haven't purchased a ticket for the particular game or entered the particular drawing in which the prize was won, don't respond to the prize notification.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.

3.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. Also, 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. Remember, participating in a foreign lottery by phone, mail or Internet is against federal law.

The Lottery 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 and for download below.