The Iowa Lottery and the Attorney General are teaming up to warn people against a mail scam claiming to bring you big lottery winnings. Attorney General Tom Miller says Iowans have been getting letters telling them they’ve won millions in legitimate Iowa Lottery games, but there’s a catch.
Miller says the letters tell the person to claim the winnings, the person has to pay certain expenses, taxes, administration, that’re between $2,900 to $3,900. Miller says the letters include a check that is said to be part of the winnings and intended to help the person pay the "expenses." Miller says the letter asks the person to write a check for equal the amount in the letter, and then wire the company the money. A few weeks later, the bank finds out the check was fake and they have to take the money back. Miller says the wire transfer is very hard to trace.
Lottery CEO Ed Stanek says the letter should immediately raise a red flag. Stanek says they don’t ask anyone to send them a check for commissions or fees if they’ve won a legitimate lottery. Stanek says the letters do look authentic, as the companies go on-line and steal actual lottery logos. Stanek says: "The scammers are using the name, the good name of some legitimate lotteries in the country. They’re violating in some cases, trademarks and copyrights. They’ve used our Powerball trademark, they’ve used the Iowa Lottery’s name in the past." Stanek says it’s important to understand that "if you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win the game."
Stanek says the scam seems to be picking up in Iowa. Stanek says they’ve had scores of complaints from people in Des Moines, the Quad Cities, even Harlan. Stanek says they got a call this morning with another complaint. Miller says this appears to be a nationwide scam that’s throwing out a wide net to see how many people they can catch.
Miller says they don’t have an exact count on how many Iowans may be involved, but believe it’s a big problem. Miller says based on the calls to the Lottery, the Attorney General’s office and other law enforcement, the "activity is very large." Miller says the three to four thousand dollars is a lot of money. Stanek says the Iowa Lottery has set up a special link on its website to give people information about potential scams.