Fake Winnings SMS Scam: How to Easily Identify Them

Smartphone, Fake winnings SMS scam

Have you ever received a text message that says you have won a prize, a lottery, or a sweepstakes? If so, you might have been targeted by a fake winnings SMS scam. These scams are designed to trick you into giving away your personal information, money, or both.

Just like missed package SMS scams, fake winnings SMS scams are also on the rise. According to the FTC, people reported losing $301 million to this type of fraud in the most recent times.

Scammers use technology to make it look like they are messaging you from a legitimate business or organization, such as the IRS, Apple, Safaricom, or Amazon.

They create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly, such as claiming that your bank account has been closed or that you have to pay a fee to claim your prize.

The scammer asks you to pay a fee or to give your financial or identity details so you can get the money or winnings. There is no free money, and you will lose more money trying to get it.

— Scamwatch

But how can you tell if a text message is a scam or not? Here are some tips to help you spot and avoid fake winnings SMS scams:

Tips on how avoid fake winnings SMS scams

1. Did you enter the contest or play the lottery?

If not, you definitely did not win.

Scammers often use random phone numbers or email addresses to send out their messages.

Do not respond, click on links, or call any numbers in the message.

Be wary of messages from unknown senders saying that you have won a prize or been selected to participate in a competition

— Safaricom

2. Do you have to pay to get your prize? Real prizes are free.

Anyone who asks you to pay a fee for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize is a scammer. Stop and walk away.

3. Do you have to give your personal information?

There is no reason to ever give your bank account or credit card number, your Social Security number, or your passwords to claim a prize.

If anyone asks for it, it is a scam.

Read more about password security.

4. Do you have to keep your win confidential?

Scammers may tell you not to tell anyone about your prize, especially not your family or friends.

They do this to prevent you from getting advice or help from others who might warn you about the scam.

Do not trust anyone who tells you to keep your win secret.


Spot a fake winnings SMS!

Here is an example of a fake winnings SMS scam. We’ve withheld some details for security purposes. The SMS message seems to come from a credible radio station in Kenya (of course not).

You have received 100,000 from [……]. Unlock your win NOW. SEND 77/= PAYBILL: […….] A/C: […..].

This message is a scam because:

  • The recipient didn’t enter any contest or lottery (as confirmed).
  • It asks the recipient to send money to claim your prize, which is a red flag for fraud.
  • It does not provide any contact information sender.

If you receive a message like this, do not reply, send money, or click on any links. Delete the message and report it to the relevant authorities.

Final thoughts on fake winnings SMS scams

Fake winnings SMS scams can be hard to spot, but by following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to them.

Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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