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Scams in the UK: How to Recognize scams, con men, fake lotteries and more in Great Britain

'Congratulations!
You may receive a certified check for CASH!
One Lump sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6.'

'Hundreds of U.K. citizens win every week using our secret system!
You can win as much as you want!'

UK National Lottery Scams

Sound great? It's a fraud.

Scam operators - often based in the Netherlands, Canadaand Nigeria-are using the telephone and direct mail to entice U.K. (and other global) consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as Australia and America.

Lotteries are a special target of the scammers. There are only two legal lotteries in Britain,

  • 'The National Lottery', authorized by The National Lottery Commission, and operated by the Camelot Group plc, and
  • the Monday Lottery.

Neither uses email to notify winners - unless you have already purchased from them and signed up for email notification from them.

Examples of the lottery scam emails

Also note that there is no legal 'UK online lottery' - see this page for a sample fraud email from the 'UK Online Lottery' at The Marina Offices of St Peters Yacht Basin

All other lotteries, including foreign lotteries operating in Great Britain, are unlawful in the UK (except those provided for by the 1976 Lotteries and Amusements Act; meaning the government run National Lottery). There are some exemptions for small charity-based lotteries, but there are explicit requirements for these and they do not email winners, either. See the legalguidance for small lotteries and the UK government paperLotteries and the Law.

Other types of scams

While UK National Lottery scams are the most common scam going in the UK, it is certainly not the only one. Click on the links below for details of other types of scams specific to Great Britain.

How to report a scam in the UK

Of course, you can forward the email to us at CFR. We will add it to the watch lists, publish it (without any information that identifies you) and forward it to the UK authorities if it is new. You can also report it directly to the UK government yourself using the addresses below:

For lottery scams: call the hotline at 020 7211 8111

For scams in general -Consumer Direct
Email to [email protected]
Tel: 08454 04 05 06

For investment scams - Financial Services Authority
Tel: 0845 606 1234

Also

  • See this page for more information about reporting scams in the UK.
  • You may also find this master list of contact information for many different UK government agencies useful.

How to recognise a scam - is it too good to be true?

A scam is when people con you out of your cash. There are hundreds of types of scams - fake lotteries and prize draws, incredible schemes to make money quickly, fake investment plans, work from home schemes the list goes on and on.
Download leafletHow to recognise a scam (pdf 411 kb)
Downloadposter (pdf 220 kb)
Listen out for our radio ad (515 kb) which you can download and play in mp3 format using Windows Media player or Real player.

The people who run these scams are clever and sophisticated and they know how to persuade us to part with our cash.

Most scams have some things in common - check out this list and help yourself to be on guard against scammers

THE CON

How scam artists succeed - they will:

  • catch you unawares, contacting you, without you asking them to, by phone, email, post or sometimes in person
  • sound pleasant, well spoken and kind (on the phone or at your door) and want you to think they're your friend
  • have slick, professional leaflets and letters
  • be persistent and persuasive
  • rush you into making a decision
  • ask you to send money before you receive their tempting offer or win.

New scams from the UK and overseas appear every day - so it's important to know how to spot them.

THE PITCH

They offer you something for nothing - such as:

  • you've won a prize in a draw or a lottery (even though you haven't entered one)
  • an exclusive entry to a scheme that's a surefire way to make money
  • a way to earn easy money by helping them get untold millions out of their country
  • the chance to join an investment scheme that will make you huge amounts of money; and so on.

There are hundreds of examples but we can all protect ourselves by being skeptical. Is it likely that someone you don't know, who has contacted you out of the blue, will give you something for nothing?

THE STING

They'll ask you to:

  • send money up front − an administration fee or tax, the list is endless but its always a ruse to get you to give them money
  • give them your bank details or other personal details
  • ring a premium rate number (all UK premium rate numbers start with 090)
  • buy something to get your prize.

They will lie to you and give you what seem to be good reasons why you should do what they say. They will answer all your objections.

Don't send any money or give any personal details to anyone until you've checked them out and talked to a professional or family and friends.
If they ask you to do any of these things they're trying to cover their tracks and get your money and it's likely to be a scam.

Other things to look out for

  • they ask you to send money straight away
  • they give you a PO box number as their address
  • they ask you not to tell anyone about the deal.

Use the links on the right to find out about some of the most common scams, and how to report any scams you come across.

Detailed Information About Particular Scams

  • The Metropolitan Police have a number of resources on their website:
  • Other sources:
  • Lottery Scams: Below is a list of many known lottery scams. Many originate in London, but they may use any address. Similarly, they change their names frequently. Recognize a scam not merely by it's name and location, but simply by the practice described above. And remember:
    If it sounds too good to be true: IT IS!!!!

Legitimate Lotteries

Legitimate lotteries in most countries, like NZ (eg, Lotto) have to be licensed to operate. In most countries, online lotteries are illegal!

Names of Scam / Fake / Fraud Lottery

***

Getting a check isn’t the most convenient way to get paid. Direct Deposits, PayPal and other sites like PayPal are much faster, right?

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Yet many companies, organizations and individuals still choose to pay by check.

There are obviously many ways to cash a personal check near you, going to the bank for example. Getting down to the bank can be a pain, so if you’ve got a check you need to cash, you might be wondering if there’s a way you can do it online.

If you’ve ever wondered how to cash a check online, you’ll be glad to know that there are actually plenty of options available to you.

Can I Actually Cash a Check Online?

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While cashing a check online is totally possible, it does differ slightly to when you cash a check in-person.

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When you take a check into a physical location like a bank or check cashing store, you can get cash on the spot. So you literally “cash” the check.

On the other hand, when you come to cash a check online you’re not “cashing” it per se, you’re depositing it into your bank account.

This means if you’re looking for cash you can hold in your hand right now, then you’ll need to head into your bank or closest check cashing place.

However, if you are cool with having the funds deposited into your bank, then cash your check online instead.

It’s so convenient. You don’t have to head out anywhere. You can do it right from your computer or even your phone!

Amazing, right?

Where to Cash a Check Online Now

We all know that trying to actually get to the bank during open business hours is so hard – often by the time we’ve finished work the bank is closed. So you have to trudge on down there at the weekend and who wants to do that?

That’s why cashing a check online is such a good option.

Thankfully, there are lots of places where you can get a check cashed online. Some of these places also let you cash other forms of payments. You can even cash a money order. It’s pretty easy to do as well.

Here are the best places where you can deposit a check online.

1. PayPal

  • Fees: No, but there’s a ten day wait or you can pay a fee to get the money in minutes

Since most of us do have a PayPal account anyway, it’s definitely an option to consider.

PayPal has a Cash a Check service in the PayPal app. It allows you to cash checks and have them credited to your PayPal Cash Plus account. (If you don’t have a PayPal Cash Plus account already, you’ll be asked to set one up.)

It’s really easy to do as well.

  • Take a photo of the check you want to cash.
  • Send it to PayPal for review.
  • If it’s approved, you can get the money sent right to your PayPal account in minutes. However, if you want the money in minutes, you do need to pay a fee.
  • If you don’t need the cash right away, then you can choose to get your money in 10 days with no fee.

So it’s great that PayPal gives you a couple of options here.

  • Learn more about cashing a check with PayPal here.
  • Download PayPal for Android devices here.
  • Download PayPal for iOS devices here.

2. Ingo Money

  • Fees: No, but there’s a ten day wait or pay a fee to get your money in minutes

Next on the list we have Ingo Money.

With it you can cash paychecks, personal checks, business checks and more. The best part is that you can get your money in minutes.

It’s really easy to cash a check with Ingo Money.

  • Just open up the app.
  • Take a photo of the front and back of your check.
  • Choose when you want your money, and where you want your money to be deposited. You can get your check sent to your bank, prepaid card, or PayPal account.
  • Submit your check for review. The review process usually takes just a few minutes.

You can get the money in minutes, but you will be charged a fee.

Or you can choose to get the money in 10 days for free.

  • Download Ingo Money for Android devices here.
  • Download Ingo Money for iOS devices here.

3. Chase App

  • Fees: No

Chase has an app you can use to deposit checks. It’s super easy, working in much the same way as cashing one with PayPal or Ingo Money.

Basically, you take a photo of the check, follow the on-screen instructions, and have your check deposited into your account.

The service is called QuickDeposit and there are no fees for using it.

Deposits that are submitted before 11pm Eastern time on a business day are usually available by the next business day. Deposits that are submitted after 11pm or on a non-business day will be processed the next business day.

  • Download the Chase App for Android devices here.
  • Download the Chase App for iOS devices here.

4. NetSpend

  • Fees: No, with a 10 day wait or fees charged for expedited deposits.

Next on the list we have NetSpend. It’s an organization that offers a selection of prepaid debit cards.

And, of course, it provides check cashing.

NetSpend allows you to cash checks to your card using its Mobile Check Load feature.

All you need to do is get the app, take a photo, and follow the on-screen instructions – so again it works in much the same way as the apps above.

This is another one that allows you to cash a check for free if you’re willing to wait 10 days to get the money. Otherwise, you may be charged a fee.

Here’s where to get the app:

  • Download NetSpend for iOS devices here.
  • Download NetSpend for Android device here.

5. Bank of America App

  • Fees: No

You can use the Bank of America app to deposit checks, which is great.

Most of these apps work in a similar way. And this one is no different. You’ll need to take a photo of the check and follow the on-screen instructions in the app to get your money.

You can cash lots of different types of checks with the Bank of America app, including:

  • Personal checks
  • Business checks
  • Government/treasury checks
  • Cashier’s checks

Checks that are received by the cutoff time (9pm ET and 8 pm PT) on a business day are generally available in your account on the next business day.

There’s no fee charged by Bank of America to use the Mobile Check Deposit feature.

Learn more about cashing a check with the Bank of America app here.

Here’s where you can get the app:

  • Download the Bank of America app for Android devices here.
  • Download the Bank of America app for iOS devices here.

6. Chime App

  • Fees: No

Chime provides mobile check deposits to members who receive payroll direct deposits of more than $200 a month.

Mobile check depositing will be automatically enabled in your Chime app 30 days after you receive your payroll direct deposit.

  • Download Chime for Android devices here.
  • Download Chime for iOS devices here.

7. US Bank App

  • Fees: No

Next we have the US Bank app. With it, you can deposit checks 24/7. All you need to do is take a photo of your check and follow the instructions to get your cash.

If you make a deposit by 9 p.m. CT, the balance is usually posted to your account the following business day.

  • Download the US Bank app for Android devices here.
  • Download the US Bank app for iOS devices here.

8. Wells Fargo App

  • Fees: No

Wells Fargo is another bank that has an app you can use to deposit checks.

Again, you’ll just need to take a photo of the front and back of your check, and follow the instructions to cash it.

With the app, you can deposit personal, business, and most government checks.

Mobile deposited funds will become available on the day after the deposit credit date.

There are no fees for Wells Fargo Online and Wells Fargo Business Online customers to use the mobile deposit feature.

  • Download the Wells Fargo app for Android devices here.
  • Download the Wells Fargo app for iOS devices here.

9. Green Dot App

  • Fees: No

Next on the list we have the Green Dot App.

Green Dot is an app that’s designed to help you to manage any Green Dot debit card or bank account. And you can even cash a check with the app.

This one allows you to deposit lots of different checks, such as:

  • Personal checks
  • Payroll checks
  • Insurance agency checks
  • Money orders
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Rebate checks
  • Stock dividend checks
  • Tax refunds
  • Federal, state and municipal government checks

And you can deposit checks right from your phone.

Just take a photo of the check and then follow the instructions in the app.

Mobile deposits can be in your account as fast as one business day, but some checks may take up to 5 business days.

There are no fees charged to deposit checks into your account.

  • Download Green Dot for iOS devices here.
  • Download Green Dot for Android devices here.

10. First Midwest Instant Check Cashing

  • Fees: No

With First Midwest Instant Check Cashing, you can deposit almost any type of check, such as:

  • Personal checks
  • Payroll checks
  • Business checks
  • Insurance agency checks
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Money orders
  • Two party checks
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Rebate checks
  • Stock dividend checks
  • Tax refund checks
  • Tax preparation firm checks
  • Government tax refund checks
  • Federal, state and municipal government checks

You can get instant access to your money, whether you have a First Midwest deposit account or not.

With the First Midwest app, you can deposit checks with your phone.

  • Download the First Midwest app for Android devices here.
  • Download the First Midwest app for iOS devices here.

11. GoBank

  • Fees: No

GoBank offers no overdraft fees on its accounts, making it a great option for many. It provides mobile check deposits through it’s app. So you can cash checks right from your phone, and all you need to do is take a few photos of the check.

In order to start using the mobile deposit feature, you need to activate your card and your account must be active with recent recurring payroll direct deposit activity for at least two months.

Once you’re eligible, you can start cashing checks through mobile deposits. The money could be in your account in as fast as one business day, but some checks may take up to 5 business days.

There are no fees charged to deposit checks into your account, which is awesome.

You can cash lots of different checks, such as:

  • Personal checks
  • Payroll checks
  • Insurance agency checks
  • Money orders
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Rebate checks
  • Stock dividend checks
  • Tax refunds
  • Federal, state and municipal government checks
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Here’s where you can get the app:

  • Download the GoBank App for iOS devices here.
  • Download the GoBank app for Android devices here.

12. Santander Mobile Banking App

  • Fees: No

You can use the Santander Mobile Banking app to deposit checks.

All you need to do is take a few photos of the check and follow the instructions in the app.

Deposits received after the 10p.m. ET cut off time will be considered as received on the following business day. So do keep that in mind. Now, it’s totally free to use the Mobile Check Deposit feature.

  • Download the Santander app for Android devices here.
  • Download the Santander app for iOS devices here.

13. ACE Elite

  • Fees: No with a 10 day wait or pay a fee to get your money in minutes

The Ace Elite Prepaid app allows you to load checks right to your account. And like with many of the apps on this list, all you need to do is take some photos of the check.

You can have your money deposited within an hour, but you will be charged a fee. Or you can choose to wait 10 days and get your money for free.

  • Download the ACE Elite app for Android devices here.
  • Download the ACE Elite app for iOS devices here.

14. Brink’s Money Prepaid

  • Fees: Yes if you want your money in minutes

Finally, we have Brink’s Money Prepaid.

It’s another prepaid card account that comes along with a check cashing feature.

If you enroll in direct deposit, you can deposit checks without having to wait in line. You can cash paychecks, and benefit checks with it.

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With the Brink’s Money Prepaid app, you can load checks right from your phone using mobile image capture.

If you want your money fast, then you may be charged a fee for the transaction.

  • Download the Brink’s Money Prepaid app for Android devices here.
  • Download the Brink’s Money Prepaid app for iOS devices here.

It’s important to note that although many of the apps above don’t charge you a fee to deposit your check, there may still be wireless carrier fees charged by your service provider. So do make sure you check with your service provider to see if they do charge any wireless carrier fees.

Happy Getting Paid!

Nowadays, you don’t have to worry about getting to the bank (when it’s actually open!) and waiting in line to cash a check. No, now you can easily cash checks online and there are so many options for doing so!

Most banks now offer a check cashing service through their apps, so you can cash checks right from your phone.

Even if your bank didn’t appear on our list, it’s definitely worth checking if they have an app that you can use to deposit checks from your phone.

And keep in mind that even if your bank doesn’t provide an online check cashing service, you can still use websites like PayPal and Ingo Money to deposit your checks.

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Next time you’re wondering how to cash a check online, it’s good to know that you have plenty of great options out there, and many of them are totally free to use!