Missouri Lottery issues scam warning

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Lottery issued a scam warning Friday, urging people to be aware of situations that may be too good to be true. 

The scam happens when someone pretending to be a lottery official calls someone and says they won a large Mega Millions prize. The scammer then says the victim must open a bank account and deposit funds to cover taxes and feeds, a news release from the Missouri Lottery said. 

The scam is part of a long history of scams designed to target innocent people, the lottery said.

“It’s unfortunate, but situations like this happen too often. A general rule of thumb is if a situation seems too good to be true, it probably is,” said May Scheve Reardon, executive director of the Missouri Lottery. 

Jason Cunningham, an officer at the Columbia Regional Airport, said he plays the lottery once or twice a month. He said he would never open an account to send the lottery the money.

"There's a lot of people that fall for that. What the best solution is, if anybody calls and says that they need you to send them money, don't do it," Cunningham said. "There's a lot of people out there that do a lot of scams these days."

The lottery said it will never do the following:

  • contact players by phone to say they have won a cash prize;
  • require vital information over the phone;
  • ask a winner to give money to claim a prize;
  • confirm that a ticket is a winner over the phone. 

Cunningham said people who receive a suspicious phone call should not give away vital information, such a social security numbers or bank account information.

"Call your local law enforcement agency and notify them of things that are happening," Cunningham said. 

The Missouri Lottery said employees have no way of knowing who wins a cash prize until the winner brings the ticket to a lottery retailer or a lottery office. 

People who think they have been contacted by a fraudulent organization or a scammer should contact the lottery at 573-751-4050 or the Attorney General's Fraud Hotline at 800-392-8222, the lottery said. 

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