Lottery officials are warning the public about scam artists who are selling “winning” scratch-off tickets that aren’t winners at all.
The N.C. Education Lottery on Friday issued a statement asking players to buy their lottery tickets only from authorized retailers to avoid becoming a victim of the scam.
Here’s how the scheme works: A nonwinning scratch-off ticket is altered to appear to have matching numbers that win a prize. The bogus ticket is then sold, usually at a discount, to unsuspecting players who find out they were scammed when they attempt to claim the prize.
Lottery officials said they had fielded four reports of altered tickets at offices across the state.
“You can easily avoid this scam by only buying an unscratched lottery ticket from an authorized lottery retailer,” Mark Michalko, executive director of the lottery, said in a statement. “Your first tip that someone is trying to scam you is when they offer to sell their prize-winning ticket at a discount with some made-up story about why they can’t claim the prize they won.”
Lottery officials offered the following tips to help consumers protect themselves from scams:
▪ Never pay anyone for a “winning ticket.”
▪ Don’t believe someone who says he or she can’t claim a prize because they are out of state or they are not a U.S. citizen. People from other states and from other countries can claim lottery prizes in North Carolina as long as they have proper identification.
Lottery officials also warned scammers that the agency’s security team works to ensure the integrity of lottery games and can investigate when, where and who purchased tickets. Anyone involved in lottery scams could be subject to criminal charges.
Players who have questions about lottery games can call 877-962-7529. Players can also call the Security Hotline toll-free at 888-732-6235.