The notorious lottery prize scams have made a comeback, posing a serious threat to the online gaming community. The Telangana State Cyber Security Bureau (TSCSB) reported a surge in complaints, with 15 cases in January alone. Fraudsters are cunningly exploiting the excitement of potential lottery prizes, disguising their schemes as promotions hosted by popular e-commerce platforms.
The scam typically unfolds with enticing news of substantial prizes, such as luxury cars or cash rewards. Victims are then pressurized into paying a significant amount to supposedly process their ‘winnings.’ TSCSB officials highlighted that these scams are executed through various channels, including physical letters and WhatsApp messages.
As reported by Times of India, since its launch in May 2023, the TSCSB has recorded a staggering 733 cases of cheating, with a focus on the online store Meesho. Victims collectively suffered losses amounting to 2.9 crore, but the bureau successfully froze 36 lakh and refunded it to the affected individuals.
One unfortunate case involved a businessman from the Old City who received a letter claiming he had won a brand new Honda Amaze car in a lottery. To claim the prize, he was asked to register with a small amount. The fraudsters gradually manipulated him into paying a total of 17 lakh for alleged charges like redemption fees, vehicle registration, insurance, tax clearance, and transportation. Realizing he was duped, the businessman informed the police.
TSCSB Director Shikha Goel warned that, despite a decline in such scams in the past, they have now resurfaced. The latest tactic involves fraudsters sending lottery communications through WhatsApp, urging victims to scan a QR code. Unfortunately, scanning the code results in financial losses, as the code is generated with a prefixed amount.
Lottery frauds are now pretending to be promotions from well-known shopping and e-commerce platforms such as Meesho, Amazon, and Flipkart. To stay safe, users are advised not to respond to communications from unknown sources. Verification through official company websites or contacting customer care is crucial to confirm the legitimacy of any claims. Above all, users should exercise caution and avoid making any payments to strangers under any circumstances, emphasized Goel.