Foreign Lottery Scam

How to Avoid Being Scammed

  1. No legitimate lottery should ask you for money to claim your prize.
  2. Never wire or send money to anyone, anywhere, who says you've won a prize.
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, odds are it's a SCAM!

Scheme Information

What is foreign lottery fraud?

Foreign Lottery

Victims are told they’ve won a lottery, but must send cash to cover taxes, duties, or fees to collect their winnings.


Foreign Lottery

Victims are typically asked to mail cash or wire money via Western Union to a U.S. address.


Foreign Lottery

Overseas calls are disguised by Magic Jack—Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) devices. It allows callers to have a U.S. area code displayed, so international calls appear to recipients as domestic calls.


Today’s episode dealt with smuggling endangered species from a foreign country. Although most of you won’t be dealing with smugglers through the mail, there is a common item that comes across our borders that you may receive. And that is the foreign lottery. If you've ever thought about buying that foreign lottery ticket and winning millions of dollars, think again.

It's illegal to play foreign lotteries in the United States. It's impractical. Unlike playing in your state's lottery, many foreign lottery agents take your money and don't even buy the tickets. It's a losing proposition. Some scammers will tell you you've won and try to charge you a fee to collect nonexistent winnings.

But the best reason not to play a foreign lottery through the mail is that you are pretty much guaranteed to lose. And once you play, you'll be put on a list and you can count on receiving more "chances" to play — and lose. Be smart. Don't take a chance on a foreign lottery.

If mail was used in a crime, even if the crime began on the Internet, phone, or in person, report it to Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455, or at postalinspectors.uspis.gov.