How to Spot a Prize Scam

Laura Harris, of the National Trading Standards Scam Team shares her insights into the world of scams.

We have all heard of people being ‘scammed’ but does the word ‘scam’ really have the gravitas to go along with the devastating effects it has on those that fall victim? And why is it so important that we all become more scam aware?

These are the facts;

  • 53% of all people aged 65 and over have been targeted by scams
  • The average scam victim is aged 75
  • Scams cost the UK economy £5-10 billion a year
  • Only 5% of all these crimes are reported(because that’s what scams are, they are crimes)
  • People defrauded in their own home are 2.5 times more likely to go into residential care or die within six months if they have been scammed in their own home compared to their neighbours.

It is not just the financial repercussions of scams but the emotional strain it has on the victims, which can result in depression, withdrawal and isolation from their friends and family.

Everyone hopes that they can be the winner of the big cash prize, a brand-new car or a luxury holiday but how can you tell the difference between these scam prize draws and lotteries and the genuine article?

What to look for?

Scammers are smart and very convincing so it isn’t always easy to differentiate between what is real and what is fake but there are things to look out for.

  • They make it personal, using your name, wording it so you feel like this is specifically for you, saying that you have been specifically chosen or approve for entry into the prize draw.
  • The prizes are too good to be true. Very few prize draws, unless run by global, well-known companies are actually giving away millions of pounds.
  • They make the prizes look authentic with official stamps or seal, quotes from alleged winners and a director’s signature.
  • You are put under pressure to reply, ‘this is a limited time offer’, ‘act quick for this amazing opportunity’ making you act without really having time to consider if the prize draw is legitimate. There should be an exact deadline for the close of the prize draw, as long as you enter before this your chances of winning will be exactly the same – you will not have a better chance of winning because you entered early.
  • You can’t win a lottery or prize draw if you did not enter it in the first place. Legitimate prize draws will not contact you if you haven’t already entered.
  • Many scam prize draws will also ask for an admin fee or processesing fee in order to release your winning prize. It is unlawful to request payment to claim a prize.
  • They may ask for personal information or bank details, again, to release your prize.

If you are unsure then do not respond and remember if you haven’t entered then you cannot win. If you have any further concerns then contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

If you would like to become more scam aware then you can visit the Friends Against Scams website at to complete the training and become a Friend Against Scams.

Now you know what to look for hopefully you will be able to make an informed decision on which prize draws you should be entering. Good luck!

If you would like to join The Prizeology 2018 campaign against prize scams, contact Prizeology at

© Prizeology and The Prizeologist Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



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