Millions of people dream of winning the lottery, but the reality is few ever will hit the jackpot. Crooks are preying your anticipation of becoming the next millionaire.
The Virginia Lottery has some tips that will keep you from being fooled.
John Hagerty with the Virginia Lottery says winning the lottery can be life changing, but he also says falling for a lottery scam can be a nightmare. He's heard the stories and taken the calls.
"They send the money and then they hear back, well you need to send us some more money and they do and sometimes people's retirement savings gets wiped out by this," he said.
Crooks can pull off the scheme with emails, phone calls or bogus letters in the mail.
"They really get under my skin personally. I have had to take these phone calls from people who say for example, hey, when am I going to get that check and I say what check is that? And inside, I know where this conversation is going and it is heartbreaking" said Hagerty.
Many of you call and email us about these lottery scams. Here is some information to help you from becoming a victim. Number one, you can't win a lottery you have never signed up for. Also, keep in mind, no legitimate lottery is going to require you to pay before you collect your prize.
"Anyone is at risk. Potentially, anyone could receive one of these fake solicitations, but it's been my experience that the elderly are especially vulnerable," Hagerty said.
The Virginia Lottery offers warning signs, helpful tips and ways you can report lottery scams on its website.
Hagerty says crooks haven't come up with new tricks because the old ones are still working.
"Don't try to get into a conversation with them. I have heard some people say well, I tried to talk to them and tried to trick them up, don't do that, they are better at this than you are," he explains.
Also keep in mind crooks will misuse legitimate lottery names like the Virginia Lottery to try and fool you.
Often, they will tell you they need your bank account information to deposit the fake prize. Don't fall for it -- there is no money -- if you fall the schemes instead of hitting the jackpot, crooks could wipe out your account.
If you are ever in doubt about a phone call or email, you can call the Virginia Lottery. The agency also reminds never trust your caller ID because crooks can make it appear they are calling from anywhere.