If you didn't buy a lottery ticket you didn't win the lottery.
That's Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's message in a warning about a scam that recently cost an 80-year-old suburban resident $90,000. Another 74-year-old person lost $82,000, he said.
Scammers contact victims by phone, fax, email or letter, often with phony seals or certificates, to congratulate them on a "jackpot" but telling them need to send money via Western Union or cashier’s check to a foreign address to pay for taxes and/or handling charges on the prize, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.
The scammer may also contact the victim again and mention there was a mistake on the calculation and more money must be sent. Such scams are prevalent all over the country. The sheriff’s office said it has received numerous calls about it.
Dart reminds: residents cannot win a lottery they didn't enter and there are no upfront fees for a legitimate prize. "Winners" should be suspicious if contacted by a lottery agency from another country, and they should never give personal information such as credit card or bank account numbers.
Anyone who believes they are a victim should call local law enforcement or sheriff’s police at 708-865-4896.