RALEIGH – The N.C. Education Lottery is issuing a warning to players to buy lottery tickets only from authorized lottery retailers to avoid a recent scam involving scratch-off tickets altered to appear as a “winning ticket.”
In the scam, non-winning scratch-off tickets are altered to make them appear to have matching numbers that win a prize. The altered ticket is then sold, usually at a discount, to unsuspecting players who find out they were scammed when they attempt to claim the prize.
As of Friday, the lottery had received four reports of such altered tickets at its offices across the state. The victims in the scams are those who buy the altered tickets.
“You can easily avoid this scam by only buying an unscratched lottery ticket from an authorized lottery retailer,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the lottery. “Your first tip that someone is trying to scam you is when they offer to sell their prize-winning ticket at a discount with some made-up story about why they can’t claim the prize they won.”
Additional ways that consumers can protect themselves from scams like this include:
— Never pay anyone for a “winning ticket.”
— Don’t believe someone who claims they can’t claim a prize because they are out-of-state or they are not a U.S. citizen. People from other states and from other countries can claim lottery prizes in North Carolina as long as they have proper identification.
The lottery’s security team ensures the integrity of lottery games and can investigate when, where and who purchased tickets. Anyone involved in lottery scams could be subject to criminal charges.
Players who have questions about NCEL games can call Customer Service toll free at (877) 962-7529 and those with a security issue can call the Security Hotline toll-free at (888) 732-6235. The NCEL keeps information about lottery scams in a section of its website at https://www.nclottery.com/CorporateSocialResponsibility_Security.