by WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
CHARLESTON, W.Va. –Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today warned consumers to be on alert for calls claiming they won an international lottery.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division warns that residents have been contacted by individuals claiming to represent the “Jamaican Lottery.” The caller speaks of the consumer having won a jackpot or large cash prize, after which he or she learns “taxes and fees,” sometimes tallying thousands of dollars, must be paid before any award is claimed.

“This is one of those instances where if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “For starters, it’s illegal for U.S. citizens to play a foreign lottery, and second, most people generally remember if they’ve played a game or not. Despite this, scammers still call our citizens and try to bilk money from them.”

These scammers typically identify themselves as lawyers, customs officials or lottery representatives, who then inform consumers they have won vacations, cars or thousands — even millions — of dollars. “Winners” need only pay fees for shipping, insurance, customs duties or taxes before their prize can be claimed.

The scammers typically ask the consumer to pay these “taxes and fees” using either a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These types of payment requests should always raise red flags, as they are popular payment techniques requested by scammers, since the money is usually unrecoverable.

Individuals who receive one of these calls are advised to hang up immediately and report the number to authorities.

Residents can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle field office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239. To file a report online, go to

Consumers can stay up to date with the latest scams by signing up for email alerts from our Office at: