“Congratulations, you’ve won!” Those are words we would all love to hear. But one difference between a legitimate lottery and a scam is: The Winner Never Has to Send Money in to a Legitimate Lottery.
Who doesn’t dream of winning big? But for a growing number of Montanans, those words are the beginning of a nightmare. In recent years, reports of fake lottery and sweepstake scams in Montana have ballooned, nearly tripling. Along the way, they have tripped up dozens of unlucky Montanans, some of whom have lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Sweepstakes and lottery scams are not new, but they are definitely on the rise. On average, someone calls the Consumer Protection Office once a day complaining of a lottery or sweepstakes scam. Additionally, the Better Business Bureau, police departments, banks and Montana Lottery officials report that that they, too, receive many calls about such scams.
The schemes differ on specifics, but most follow a formula:
A person receives an unsolicited letter, e-mail or phone call from an organization claiming to be a legitimate lottery in a foreign country, a private sweepstakes firm or a lottery “commission.” They all bear the same message: You’re a winner!
To redeem his or her “winnings,” a person must first send or wire money to lottery or sweepstakes officials. The scammers often request that the money be wired because money sent in this way is much harder to trace.
- Sometimes, these fees are explained as taxes or administrative fees that must be paid up front.
- In other variations, the scammers promise the “winner” tens of thousands of dollars and send along a check for a smaller amount intended to cover “legal fees” associated with winning. This check is to be deposited immediately and the winner is instructed to send the money to a “lawyer” who will help them process and collect the winnings.
These checks often look very realistic; many are fakes copied word-for-word from real businesses. And while these checks will always bounce, the money a “winner” wires away is all too real – and in almost every case, that money is gone for good. An example of one of these fake checks can be viewed on our website.
How can you tell if you’re being hit by a scam?
Here is how a legitimate lottery works, according to the Montana Lottery:
- An actual lottery does not contact the winner; they don’t even know who the winner is. A real lottery knows only the winning numbers on a ticket and where the ticket was sold. The winner must keep the ticket and confirm the numbers with lottery officials. If you are contacted by someone claiming you have won the Montana lottery, it is a scam.
- In a real lottery, winners pay for nothing other than their ticket. All federal and state taxes are paid before the Montana Lottery releases money to the winner. A winner is never asked to pay such taxes out-of-pocket before receiving his or her prize.
- Lotteries of foreign countries are illegal in the United States. No legitimate foreign lottery sells tickets in the United States. If you have been contacted by a lottery claiming to be affiliated with the government of another country, it is a scam.
A Guide to Montana Lottery: MT Lotto Winners & Games
Montana is one of the best places to be if you like playing lottery games. The state supports a series of national, multi-state and Montana-only lotteries. Tickets cost as little as $1 while jackpots are worth millions of dollars.
The best part of MT lotteries is that they are held throughout the year. That means if you’re a competitive person with the dream of winning a million-dollar jackpot, you have countless opportunities to follow that dream.
How can you participate in these lotteries? Stick around for the next few minutes to find out.
MT is a member of the Multi State Lottery Association (MUSL). And that means it allows its citizens to participate in the Powerball. It costs $3 for a ticket into the competition although you can buy a $2 ticket that excludes the grand prize.
Powerball conducts drawings at the Universal Studios in Florida every Wednesday and Saturday. It then announces winners on TV, online and newspapers. If there’s no winner, the jackpot increases by $10 million until the next drawing.
Amazingly, you can also win money if you have 1-5 of the six numbers required to hit the jackpot. Usually, you choose five white numbers and one red number to participate in the pot.
You win $5 million if you have the five winning white numbers. In contrast, you only get $4 if you pick the correct red ball. Find a more detailed guide to Montana lottery at lotteryamerica.com. This includes a complete breakdown of all the ways you can win money from the Powerball.
Mega Millions is the second biggest lottery in the country. It started small in 1996 and has been increasing annually to the tune of a $1.5 billion payout in 2018. It’s also undergone several changes, including a couple of name and rule changes.
Presently, tickets for Mega Millions cost $2 although you can add $1 to get a multiplier that increases non-jackpot wins 2x to 5x. With the game’s latest rules, you select five white balls from 1 through 70. Then you select a golden ball from a pool of 1 to 25.
Like Powerball, non-jackpot payments are small but decent. You earn $1 million if you pick the winning five white balls in the competition. You earn $10,000 if you have four of the white numbers plus the correct gold ball. The smallest payout is a $2 payment to players with the correct gold ball.
Lotto America launched in 2017 as a replacement for Hot Lotto. It works like Powerball or Mega Millions in that you select two types of balls. First, you select five balls from a drum containing numbers 1 to 52. Then you select a star ball from a pool of 1 to 10.
Like Powerball, you can also press “Quick play” to let the computer select six numbers at random. Additionally, you can add $1 to your ticket for a multiplier that could magnify your profits 2x to 5x for all wins besides the grand prize.
Since only 13 states participate in Lotto America, its payouts are relatively small compared to Powerball. For example, the jackpot starts at $2 million and not $15 million or $40 million like the bigger games.
For non-jackpot payments, you win $20,000 if you match five regular balls and $1000 for four regular balls and one-star ball. If you get four white balls, you win $100. You win even less if you have three balls plus a star ball.
Lucky for Life
Lucky for Life started as a state-only lottery for players in Connecticut. But then, more states showed interest in a partnership that now involves 23 states, including Montana. The competition pays one lucky player $1000 daily for the rest of their lives.
To participate, you choose five white balls from a drum containing 1 through 48. And then you choose a green ball from a pool of 1 through 18. As mentioned, winning this jackpot means payments every day for the rest of your life.
If you come up second (five regular balls), you earn $25,000 daily for life. Unfortunately, the smaller payments aren’t entirely life-changing. For example, you earn $5000 for matching four white balls plus a green ball.
Big Sky Bonus
Big Sky Bonus is one of the best jackpots for lottery fans in MT. For starters, you can buy tickets for seven consecutive drawings. And you can buy your tickets two minutes before the daily draw starts 7.30 pm Mountain time.
The jackpot is relatively small. It starts at $2,000 and increases gradually until someone nabs it. Luckily, the odds of winning are realistic. That’s because you choose four instead of five white balls.
The balls are drawn from a small drum of 1 through 28. You also need to choose a Big Sky Bonus ball from a pool of 1 through 17. Considering there are more prizes besides the grand prize, the odds of winning something in this game are high.
You might not win a lot of money. But you get to keep $20 if you match three of the four winning white numbers. If you have the Big Sky Bonus ball, you win $10.
Montana has a local lottery with a jackpot that starts at $40,000. It’s one of the most played lotteries in the Mountain State. And that’s because it costs just $2 despite having a decent grand prize.
What’s more, you only need to match five numbers to win Montana Cash. If you’re not interested in the grand prize, you can buy $1 tickets to win $200 when you match four numbers and $5 for three correct numbers.
That’s it—the most popular lotteries in Montana. Like almost every other state, Powerball and Mega Millions are everyone’s favorite jackpots in MT. Unfortunately, their odds are too slim, even for non-jackpot competitions.
As an alternative, Montana features multi-state games like Lottery America and state-only games like Montana cash. They have small payouts but their odds are attractive.Montana is one of the best places to be if you like playing lottery games. The state supports a series of national, multi-state and Montana-only lotteries. ]]>