A recent CNN article described various online scams, including fake lotteries and other 419 scams:
As one scam-watch site pointed out, lottery companies do not organize “promotional” lotteries, they advertise. A free “promotional” lottery that you only hear about if you win would only promote the lottery to a handful of customers. That doesn’t make any sense.
If you answer the e-mail, after one or two e-mail exchanges with the so-called lottery officials or claims agent, perhaps accompanied by some official looking but fake documents, you’ll be asked to pay fees for taxes or handling or some other reason. This is the scam — you pay the fees and never see any winnings, mainly because there are none to see.
Currently fake lotteries are the most prominent of online scams. We get far more queries about fake lotteries than about all other types of scams taken together. More people fall for them than for any other scam, maybe because so many people play lotteries in “real life”, so the idea of a sudden lucky strike is not alien to them.
In case you wondered, the unnamed scam-watch site quoted by CNN is the one you’re looking at right now. It was a quote from our 419 fraud FAQ about fake lotteries. The article also prominently mentioned Fraudwatchers.org of which we’re a member and listed it as the first of several fraud-information websites.
Education is the most effective weapon against scams. People who know about scams are not easily tricked any more. If more newspaper and TV and radio stations were to talk about scams, fewer people would fall victim to them.