Lottery game players in Michigan have been warned to be on their guard against a scam that has targeted the state.

The Michigan Lottery has issued the warning to the public after identifying a scam that promises a big prize, but first requires a fee or the handing over of sensitive information.

The initial contact comes in the form of an email, letter or phone call that informs the player that they have won a large lottery prize. If the victim agrees to hand over a fee, they are asked to send a check, go through an electronic funds transfer or arrange a meeting to collect the money. Alternatively, victims have been induced to hand over sensitive data that can be used in identity fraud.

On some occasions, scammers have returned to the original victim, asking for more money, claiming that this is due to processing fees or other costs. The ongoing lock down during the COVID-19 crisis is likely to increase concerns that isolated individuals could fall prey to such scams.

In their advice, the Michigan Lottery warn people to apply common sense, particularly in cases where they are offered prizes for lotteries that they haven’t entered. Michigan residents were advised to use the official lottery site to establish whether any promotion, prize or lottery is legitimate, while those who feel they have been the victim of a scam are advised to get in touch with their local law enforcement agency.

On Tuesday, lawmakers in the state voted to extend the existing state of emergency for another 23 days. The previous state of emergency, which grants Governor Gretchen Whitmer extensive powers, ran out this week. All of the state’s gambling facilities have been shut down, a measure that affects over 19,000 employees and could cost over $1 billion in lost economic activity.

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