Don't get fooled! The Michigan Lottery is warning the public about scammers who pretend to be lottery prize agents or prize winners.

According to a release, there are generally two kinds of prize scams:

  • A person gets a letter, email or phone call to inform them that they’ve won a big lottery prize but must pay a fee to collect the prize. If the person agrees, the scam artist convinces them to mail a cashier’s check, make an electronic funds transfer, or even arranges a meeting to get the money in cash.
  • A person is contacted by mail, email, or phone call by someone claiming to be a lottery prize winner. The scam artist tells the person they will share their prize if the person sends money to them. If the person agrees, the scam artist convinces them to mail a cashier’s check, make an electronic funds transfer, or even arranges a meeting to get the money in cash.

Sometimes, a scammer even comes back to ask for more money after a victim initially pays up, with the story that are more "unexpected processing costs or fees" or some other excuse.

Recently, an 84-year-old West Michigan man lost $72K in a similar scam. He was contacted by someone claiming to be from Publisher's Clearing House, who said he'd won a sweepstakes, but would need to supply taxes and fees to obtain the prize.

The Michigan Lottery says they process all claims for free. Winners must have a winning ticket to claim a prize -- so if you have not purchased a lottery ticket or played a lottery game, there is no way that you could be a winner.

Anyone who thinks they are a victim of a lottery scam should contact local law enforcement.