As I look at an email I just got from the Illinois Lottery, I see that tonight's Powerball drawing has about $730 million reasons for you to consider playing. As the Illinois Lottery's Jessica Perez explains, "This is the fourth largest Powerball prize in game history and the sixth highest jackpot in U.S. lottery history."

And, if $730 million isn't enough dough to get you to grab a ticket, the Mega Millions game is approaching $1 billion ($970 million) for its next drawing. The Illinois Lottery points out that amount would be the second highest jackpot in history.

As we've seen previously, the lure of the big money brings out the scammers. Thousands of Americans fell prey to scammers trying to grab their stimulus checks, and every single year, the numbers of people tricked out of their tax refunds seems to grow. If there's a pile of cash, scammers will be circling it like sharks.

The same holds true when you see lottery jackpots climb up into the stratosphere, according to Dennis Horton, Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

It basically breaks down, as many scams do, to finding people who are really dealing with desperate times. You probably don't have to ponder that too hard before thinking of someone who fits that description.

Then, the scammers get to work. The Rockford BBB says that scammers will use phony accounts, fake email addresses, fake phone calls, and even made-up social media direct messaging to trick lottery players (and even those who don't play).

The way it works is scammers will use those methods to convince you that you've won a big (or the big) jackpot. Then, they'll come at you in a couple of different ways. One way is to tell you that you have to pay a fee in order to have your jackpot winnings processed, or to pay the taxes you owe on your win. The other way is to tell the potential victim that they've won, and that they now need to give the scam caller information like their Social Security number, drivers license number, passport number, and/or bank account information to claim their cash prize.

The Rockford BBB reminds you that you:

  • Never pay a fee before claiming a prize
  • Can't win a prize if you didn't buy a ticket
  • Should never give out personal information over the phone, because lottery agents do not call lottery winners.

 

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