Prize scams

Canadians are solicited over the phone, email or social media and advised that they are the winner of a large lottery or sweepstake. Prior to receiving any winnings, they must first pay an upfront fee. No winnings are ever received.

The scammers constantly re-invent the wheel and come up with new twists to prey on potential victims. Recently, the CAFC has received reports where seniors receive a call from an individual who claims to represent "Reader's Digest" or "Publisher's Clearing House." Scammers advise that you have won a prize and in order to receive the winnings, you are required to pay a small advance fee to cover taxes or legal fees associated to the win. Scammers target seniors who do not use online banking services and use the financial information to take over their account which is then used to launder money and proceeds from other mass marketing fraud scams.

Warning signs - How to protect yourself

  • Known lottery and sweepstakes companies such as Reader's Digest and Publisher's Clearinghouse will never request money up front in order to receive a prize.
  • Any fees associated to winnings will never be paid through a money service business such as Western Union, MoneyGram or by loading funds to prepaid credit cards such as Green Dot.
  • Any unsolicited phone call advising that you have won a lottery is fake. The only way to participate in any foreign lottery is to go to the country of origin and purchase a ticket in person. A ticket cannot be purchased on your behalf.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone, no matter who the caller claims to represent.

Were you a victim?

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Toll-free: 1-888-495-8501

Competition Bureau of Canada
Toll-free: 1-800-348-5358

Ontario Provincial Police
Toll-free: 1-888-310-1122

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Toll-free: 1-866-461-3222

Better Business Bureau
(BBB Locator Tool)

Fraud: Recognize, report and stop it!

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