In 2020, unwitting victims of scams around the world were swindled out of their hard-earned cash to the tune of $154.8 million.  Have you heard the age-old adage that “a sucker is born every minute”? Nobody wants to be a fool, yet so many of us are unaware of how the lucrative con artist game works.

The best way to protect yourself from scammers – educate yourself on how confidence schemes work. In today’s post, we are revealing the “stolen lottery ticket” scam as well as other lottery scams out there. Keep reading to wise up and protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to lottery scams.

The Art of The Scam 101

We all have weaknesses as it is human nature. An individual that preys on the weaknesses of others in order to fool them into handing over cash or other valuables is called a:

  • Grifter
  • Conman / Confidence man
  • Con artist
  • Scammer
  • Fraudster
  • Trickster
  • Hustler

They could be anyone you meet by chance, anywhere in the world. Confidence schemes range from simple “short cons” to sophisticated “long cons” that may involve a team of grifters over periods of days, weeks, or even months.

No matter the level of complexity, every con starts with “the mark”. As previously mentioned, the scammer targets or “marks” those with certain human weaknesses and leverages those weaknesses to pull off the scam. These weaknesses include but are not limited to:

  • Greed
  • Trust
  • Lust/love/friendship
  • Pride
  • Anger/wrath/revenge
  • Compassion/sympathy
  • Ignorance
  • Hope/desperation
  • Laziness/impatience

In the case of most lottery scams, the con artist leverages greed and the hope people have of one day hitting a “lucky break” that will change their life to one of happiness and luxury. Sounds like almost every lottery player, right? And that is why these scams are so prominent – they work. Let’s take a look at a common yet not well-known lottery scam and how it works.

The Stolen Lottery Ticket Scam

There are several versions of this confidence scheme, but the most prominent one involves the use of previously cashed-in scratch-off winning lottery tickets. Already redeemed tickets can be found in dumpsters of convenience stores and through “insider methods”. Scammers with forgery skills can even alter or create “winning lottery tickets” from scratch.

Setting Up the Confidence Scheme

Here is how a typical scam of this type goes down. The scammer buys say ten $1 scratch-off tickets and takes them along with the “stolen” bogus ticket of the same type to a bar, cafe, or other social hangouts with potential marks.

The scam artist begins to work the room by building trust with the bartender and patrons. Usually, they tell a heartbreak story to illicit sympathy and vulnerability. For example, they might say they lost their job and are running out of money. They might say they are down to their last $100 and about to be evicted from their home.

They might also buy drinks for their marks and tip well. This will make people feel as if they “owe something” to the con artist. At some point the con artist begins to scratch off the tickets, announcing the results to their “new friends.” With a flair for the dramatic, the con artist fakes excitement and joy when he wins a big prize, say $1000.

The Trap Is Set

He goes on and on about how he can now pay his rent and may even buy a round for the bar. After a while of celebration and hopefully envy from the bar owner/bartender/patrons he is suddenly “struck with the realization” he can not cash the big winner without going to the state lottery office in person.

For whatever reason, this is not possible for the unlucky lucky lottery winner. Maybe they don’t have ID, maybe they can’t wait for the money, or maybe they are not a US citizen and therefore ineligible to legally play.

If the scheme was properly set up someone will offer to buy the ticket in hopes of making some quick easy money and “helping” the poor guy to enjoy at least part of his lucky winnings. A “good mark” will offer to split the winnings with the con artist and proceeds to buy the ticket for $500. If the scammer is really lucky, a sympathetic soul will give him the full thousand dollars to “help him out”.

Other Types of Lottery Scams

Sometimes, it is the cashier that is ripping you off. One of the few scratch-off secrets that can be used to take advantage of the system is micro-scratching. Scratch-off tickets have a code that vendors can use to see if the ticket is a winner.

The code is under the scratch part of the ticket, but if someone knows just where it is, they can scratch just enough to reveal if the ticket is a winner.

Cashiers and/or convenience store managers have been known to micro scratch a roll of lottery tickets, find the winners, and keep them for themselves. They then sell the losers to unsuspecting customers in essence rigging the game so only they win.

Avoid this scam by looking for tickets not coming off the rolls and any part of the ticket scratched, no matter how small. Report any suspicious behavior to your state lottery authorities. The Lottery investigates scratch-off scams relentlessly in order to keep the confidence of consumers that the lottery is fair.

How to Avoid Lottery Ticket Scams

There are many types of lottery scams, but they all can easily be avoided by following some common-sense rules. First of all, never buy a lottery ticket from anyone other than an authorized lottery dealer. Learn real scratch-off secrets that could help you win that big prize and minimize your risk.

Be on the lookout for suspicious behavior when buying your tickets. Make sure scratch-off tickets come from the display roll and that they have not been tampered with. Know the games you play and that when you win you get the winnings coming to you.

Avoid the Stolen Lottery Ticket Scam

Much of this world is not as it seems. Those naive enough to think they can trust “most people” are likely to let their guard down and suffer the consequences. Playing the lottery odds should keep you suspicious of any easy money coming your way.

Play responsibly. Now that you know how tricky these scams can be, watch out for the stolen lottery ticket scam. To truly increase your odds of winning by tracking when and what games to play – subscribe to our weekly reports of lottery games in your state.