Industry Canada

Industry Canada
Competition Bureau Canada

Competition Bureau Canada

March 27, 2007 11:25 ET

Competition Bureau/Phoney Lotteries: The Odds are Against You

Fraud: Recognize It. Report It. Stop It.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 27, 2007) - As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Competition Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for phoney lotteries.

Many dream about winning the multi-million dollar lottery prize, buying the fancy sports car and mansion, travelling the world and living the life of luxury. In fact, these fantasies fuel lottery sales. Consumers seeking an easy way to realize their lottery dream are ideal targets for lottery scammers.

Canadians have been victimized by lottery pitches emailed to them or advertised on the Internet. These scams reportedly sell tickets for government-run lotteries.

In particular, large jackpot lotteries such as Spain's El Gordo (the Fat One) lottery are promoted. Scammers promoting tickets for these lotteries over-emphasize the total amount of the jackpot available and lead consumers to think that they have a better chance of winning large amounts of money than if they purchased lottery products from authorized retailers.

Often, consumers are much worse off purchasing from these lottery pirates. A small percentage of the consumer's money is actually spent on buying lottery tickets. Secondly, many lottery scammers place consumers in large groups of 200 to 300 people; as such, any winnings must be shared by all group members. Lottery pitchers may claim that this type of group play improves the chances of winning - which it does - but the improved chances of winning are offset by the fact that any winnings must be shared by all. This makes winning anywhere near the represented amounts impossible.

Consumers should also be aware that under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to sell lottery tickets without proper provincial government authorization. It is also illegal to sell Canadian lottery tickets outside a designated province.

There really is no easy way of becoming a millionaire by playing lotteries. The odds of winning major government lotteries are about 1 in 14,000,000. Lottery pitchers cannot improve these odds for you. Any claims to the contrary are bogus.

Tips for consumers to protect themselves:

- Remember that you should not have to pay to collect a prize.

- Make sure that you read very carefully all the details about the offer contained in the promotional material.

- Do not send money up front. Recovering losses from lottery scammers will likely prove very difficult, especially in the case of foreign-based scammers.

- Do not reveal bank account or credit card-related information to a business or person you do not know.

- Be on guard! Responding to an offer from a lottery scammer could mean that your name might be added to a "sucker list" that is made available to deceptive and fraudulent marketers.

The Competition Bureau chairs the Fraud Prevention Forum, which is a concerned group of private sector firms, consumer and volunteer groups, government agencies and law enforcement organizations committed to fighting fraud aimed at consumers and businesses. Through its partners, the Forum works to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud by educating them on how to recognize it, report it and stop it.

For more information on the Forum or Fraud Prevention Month, visit:

Contact Information

  • Media enquiries:
    Competition Bureau
    Maureen McGrath
    613-296-2187 (cell.)
    General enquiries:
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