Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich



Terry Goddard Reminds Seniors to be Aware of Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

(Phoenix, Ariz. – March 8, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today advised seniors to be aware of lottery and sweepstake scams that are currently on the rise in Arizona.  Taking protective measures helps to ensure seniors are not victims.

“With many scam artists taking aim at seniors, I want all Arizonans to be armed with the knowledge they need to stay safe and stop crimes before they happen,” Goddard said. “Prevention is always better than prosecution. The best defense against scams and frauds are seniors who spot the warning signs and stop those scams before they happen.”

The scam usually starts with a phone call, a letter, or an email telling seniors that they’ve won a sweepstakes, lottery, or expensive new car.  The phone callers often say they are with the IRS, FBI, U.S. Attorney, Federal Trade Commission or even international businesses.  They usually explain to the “winner” that to receive the grand prize they need to pay money to cover taxes or insurance fees.  They tell the winner to keep the news of their prize confidential and give instructions to wire the money to a foreign country to claim the multi-million-dollar check.  Once the “winner” pays $500, or $1,000 or even $5,000, there will be more phone calls with complex reasons why more money needs to be paid to get the big prize.

The Attorney General’s Office wants you to be aware of some warning signs to protect yourself against these types of scams:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be suspicious of any lottery or sweepstakes mail.   Many times these mailings say to send a small amount of money to find out if you are a winner.  Most seniors who receive the calls from these scam artists initially responded to something that came to them in the mail.
  • Read the fine print.  Many of these letters will say you need to send money in order to acquire your winnings.  
  • Never pay money.  No legitimate lottery or sweepstakes company will ask you to pay money.
  • Never share your personal information, especially not your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.
  • Alert Authorities. If you have become a victim, don’t be afraid or ashamed to report it.  It’s your civic duty to make sure others don’t become victims of the same scams.
  • Scam Alerts.  These alerts allow you to stay ahead of the rapidly changing consumer scams and schemes.

Prevention is always better than prosecution.  The Attorney General’s Office offers Senior Anti-Crime Universities throughout Arizona to help seniors learn to protect themselves against many of these types of scams.  The Senior Anti-Crime University is also part of the Attorney General’s Senior Sleuths project.  Senior Sleuths is a volunteer program to help Arizona seniors protect themselves and prevent others from becoming victims of fraud and abuse.

There are several Senior Anti-Crime Universities planned for the coming months.  A complete schedule of upcoming events is attached.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office encourages everyone to visit the AG website, for tips about making smarter decisions in the marketplace, at school and at home.