How to Identify Scams, Frauds and Hoaxes

Tips on How to Identify a Scam or Fraud

If the email, phone call, prize or lottery notification has any of the following elements, we strongly suggest it is probably a fraud and you do not respond to it. Below are some general tips to recognize scams.  Detailed information can be found from the menu buttons at left:

  • The name of the company is listed on this website somewhere as a scam.
  • The email matches one of the definitions or formats on this website.
  • The organization has no website and can not be located in Google.
  • The email or requestor asks for bank account information, credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, passport numbers, your mother's maiden name or other personal information.
  • The email or caller advises that you have won a prize - but you did not enter any competition run by the prize promoters.
  • The email claims you won a lottery (we know of NO legal lottery that notifies winners by email)
  • The mail may be personally addressed to you but it has been posted using bulk mail - thousands of others around the world may have received the exact same notification. Especially true if you find an exact or similar email posted on this website.
  • The return address is a yahoo, hotmail, or other free email accounts. Legitimate companies can afford the roughly $100 per year that it costs to acquire and maintain a domain and related company email account.
  • The literature contains a lot of hype and exaggerations, but few specific details about costs, your obligations, how it works, etc.
  • The prize promoters ask for a fee (for administration, "processing", taxes, etc.) to be paid in advance. A legitimate lottery simply deducts that from the winnings!
  • The scheme offers bait prizes that, if they are real, are often substandard, over-priced, or falsely represented.  Or, as part of the prize you can purchase "exclusive items" which may also be over-priced or substandard.
  • To get your prize might require travel overseas at your own cost (and personal risk) to receive it.



For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.