Scammers try to convince you that you are owed or entitled to, money or winnings that you did not expect to receive.  

The scammer asks you to pay a fee or to give your financial or identity details so you can get the money or winnings. There is no free money, and you will lose more money trying to get it.

Warning signs it might be a scam

  • Unexpected emails, letters, texts, or any contact that say you are entitled to money, compensation, or an inheritance.
  • You are asked to pay money up-front, like taxes or fees to get money or prizes; but you haven’t entered a competition.
  • A letter or email looks official and asks you for an upfront ‘administration fee’ or tax to receive a refund or rebate.
  • A court order says you are a beneficiary and asks for your identity information or money to make a claim.

Steps you can take to protect yourself

  • Always stop, think, and check before you act. Offers of free money are too good to be true and are likely scams.
  • Don’t pay a fee to collect winnings or a prize. Legitimate lotteries don’t ask you to do this.
  • Never share your bank or credit card details or your identity documents to anyone you don’t know or trust. Government departments or trusted companies will never ask you to pay money upfront to claim a grant or rebate.
  • Check with your bank, a legal service or a trusted friend or family member, to see if an offer is legitimate.
  • Do an internet search using the names or contact details to check for any references to a scam.
  • If a friend or family member sends you a message about a prize on social media, check with them outside of social media that they sent it.

Common unexpected money scams

The scammer pretends to be a lawyer, banker, or foreign official. They will say you have a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy person.  They will provide fake bank statements, birth certificates and other documents to make it look real.

You will be asked to pay a series of fees, charges or taxes and send personal information and documents to get the money.

Rebate scams say you are due a rebate from the government, a bank or trusted organisation. This could include money back for overpaid taxes, bank fees or some sort of compensation.

The contact may come by mail, telephone, email, text message or social media. To receive the money, you are asked to pay an upfront fee to cover 'administration fees' or taxes.

Scammers mail fake scratch-off cards that promise a prize, on the condition that the ‘winner’ pays a fee.

The card asks you to call the company to claim the prize. If you call, you will be asked to pay a fee to enter the competition, claim your prize or to become a customer.  They may also ask you to provide information about yourself including bank information.

Travel prize scams ask you to pay money to claim a ‘reward’ such as a free or discounted holiday in a competition you didn’t enter.

You will be asked to provide credit card and bank details, plus other information about yourself.

Scammers say they are from well-known businesses, such as airlines or hotel chains.

Money transfer scammers offer you a share in a large sum of money or a payment, if you help them transfer money out of their country.

The scammer claims that a fee needs to be paid before the money can be moved and they ask you to pay it.

Never agree to transfer money for someone else. It’s called money laundering and being involved is a criminal offence.

You receive a letter, email, text message or message on social media, saying you have won a prize in a lottery or competition you did not enter.

Unexpected prize, competition and lottery scams work by asking you to pay a fee or a tax so you can claim your prize or winnings.

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