Scratchie scams take the form of fake scratchie cards that promise some sort of prize, on the condition that the ‘winner’ pays a collection fee.
How this scam works
Scratchie cards are sometimes used in promotions, lotteries or competitions, beckoning users to ‘scratch and win an instant prize’, for example travel or holidays. While some scratchie cards may represent legitimate lotteries or competitions, you should be extremely suspicious of any scratchie card that requires a payment to claim a prize.
Scratchie scams will offer you an instant prize, but when you contact the trader to claim it, you will be asked to provide payment for various ‘fees’ via wire transfer or preloaded money card. The scammer may request bank details and photo identification. In some rare cases you may be asked to travel overseas to collect your winnings.
The scam package may include professional-looking brochures, often for accommodation, which are designed to trick you into thinking the competition is legitimate. It may include contact details for a business overseas and a web address for a fraudulent but professional-looking website.
The up-front payment requested can be as high as a few thousand dollars. If you pay, you will not receive the prize, and you will never see your money again. If you provide your personal details, they may be used for further fraudulent activity such as identity crime.
You receive a letter or brochure in your mailbox which includes scratchie cards. Often there will be two cards – one is a losing card and the other has a second or third prize win.
The scratchies will say you have to call the company to claim the prize.
If you call the organisation they may claim that the scratchies were sent to you in error however you can pay a fee to enter the competition or become a customer to make the win valid.
- You are asked to send a fee or bank account details to collect your prize. You may be asked to send personal identification as well.
- The trader offering the prize claims the offer has government approval. This is often accompanied by a request for the payment of taxes linked to the prize.
- If someone asks you to pay money up-front in order to receive a prize or winnings, it’s almost always a scam.
- Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
Do an internet search using the names, winnings or contact details on the scratchie card to check for any references to a scam – many scams can be identified this way.
- Never send money or give credit card, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Have you been scammed?
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screenshot.
Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.