The Office of Fair Trading is warning the public to beware of fake lottery scams.

With a promise of cash winnings and visions of a millionaire lifestyle, receiving a letter, email or telephone call about a supposed lottery win can seem like a dream come true.

But for many, it can be the start of a scam nightmare, leaving people out of pocket or at risk of identity theft.

One in three people (32 per cent) have received a fake lottery win notification, research shows.

Lottery scams cost the British public an estimated £260 million a year.

Approximately 140,000 adults fall victim to these scams a year.

However only six per cent of victims report it to authorities such as the police or trading standards, So far this year, the OFT-managed consumer advice service Consumer Direct received 4000 complaints about lottery scams.

Average loss is £1,900 per victim per year Often masquerading as legitimate lottery operators such as the Spanish El Gordo or our own National Lottery, people receive information about their win out of the blue, telling them that they have won a major cash prize in a lottery or sweepstake.

The scam unfolds as the company asks for ‘administration fees’ to handle the win, or for the ‘winner’ to send personal details to confirm their identity to receive the prize. The winnings do not exist and are never received.

As part of the campaign, organisations across the UK such as Help The Aged and Co-operative Financial Services are helping to alert the public to these scammers.

The OFT is also targeting 425,000 more likely to fall for such scams, offering tips and advice on how to spot a bogus lottery notification.

To help stop people falling foul of these lottery scams, the OFT, National Lottery operator Camelot and its regulator the National Lottery Commission provide the following advice: Ask yourself: how can I win a lottery prize if I haven’t bought a ticket?

Never send money upfront to claim a lottery prize. The National Lottery and other genuine lotteries will never ask you to pay fees or taxes before claiming your winnings.

Never reveal your credit card or bank account details unless you’re sure who you are dealing with.

Tell your friends and family if you think a letter or e-mail might be a scam.

The National Lottery never tells winners how much they’ve won in an email, if it includes a value it is bogus .

If it looks to good to be true it probably is. Visit for more information and tips.

Heather Clayton, Senior Director, Office of Fair Trading Consumer Markets Group, said: “Lottery scams are a serious issue affecting 140,000 adults in the UK each year which is why we want people to recognise the warning signs. Remember that if a win looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”

Speaking about lottery scams, Paul Jay, Camelot’s Head of Information Security, said: “We never advise players that they have won a prize via an unsolicited letter, e-mail or telephone call and we never ask for up-front fees or personal information.

"If you haven’t purchased a ticket for The UK National Lottery, you won’t have won a prize – and we would urge players to treat letters, emails and phone calls telling you otherwise with absolute caution.”

For more information on how to spot a lottery scam, or to report a suspected scam visit