Be aware of lottery scams as Powerball jackpot reaches $800 million

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COLUMBUS, Ohio-- With the Powerball jackpot reaching a record amount, the Ohio Attorney General's Office is warning residents to wary of lottery scams.

The current Powerball jackpot stands at $800 million, the largest in U.S. history. The next drawing is Saturday at 11 p.m.

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According to the attorney general, the office has received dozens of complaints about sweepstakes or prize scams in the last month. The average victim lost about $5,000.

“If you receive a call saying you’ve won the lottery, it’s almost always a scam,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said, in a news release on Friday. “Con artists play on what’s in the news, so we’re warning people to be wary of scams as the Powerball jackpot grows.”

DeWine said to be on the lookout for the following signs you're dealing with a scam:

Signs of a lottery scam include:

Winning a lottery you don’t remember entering.
Receiving calls from a lottery or government agency saying you’ve won millions.
Receiving an unexpected check for a few thousand dollars.
Having to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
Having to send money via wire transfer or prepaid card.

The attorney general encourages residents to take these steps to avoid being a victim:

Be very skeptical of someone who calls you and says you’ve won the lottery. These calls are almost always scams.
Don’t wire money or pay a fee to receive your winnings.
Don’t give out your personal information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly over the phone or through email.
Be skeptical if you are asked to call an out-of-country phone number in connection with a lottery or sweepstakes win.
Be skeptical if you receive an unexpected check for a few thousand dollars. It could be a counterfeit check used as part of a scam.
If you have older relatives or friends, look for signs that they have been targeted by lottery scams. Red flags include unusual banking activities, wire transfer receipts, or an increased number of phone calls made to them.

Ohioans should report possible scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or at 800-282-0515.