The Lottery Scam

You know what a “Lottery Scam” is? If not, just bear with me for a second.

The “lottery scam” is a widely used con. It usually starts with the sending of a letter, in which the winning of a prize is announced. Somehow, you, the receiver of the letter, are suddenly entitled to that prize. You just won something. Isn’t that wonderful?

After you get in contact with the sender to clarify the details of your winnings, you are then asked to pay a little bit of money. It’s not much, compared to the winnings and it makes perfect sense, too. That money is either “processing money” or “tax” that you should just pay. And it’s not that much anyway.

After you pay that small amount of money, all of a sudden, your prize either disappears, or transforms itself into something completely worthless (like coupons for extremely expensive stuff you can’t afford anyway). It’s in that moment that you realize the small amount of money you were required to pay was really important. And lost. And that you’ve been scammed.

The Life Lottery Scam

When presented like this, this scam is relatively easy to be spotted and avoided. But the bad news is that the “lottery scam” works on many other levels. In fact, it activates some very deep switches, making us vulnerable on many areas. I call it “the life lottery scam”. Here are a few examples.

Suppose you’re a man and a beautiful woman enters your life. You are incredibly attracted to her and start telling to yourself that finally something good is coming into your life. She also seems attracted to you, but not too much. Just enough to be seen as a valuable prize, as something that you must fight for.

And fighting is what you do. You fiercely begin your struggle and start spending small amounts of stuff (not talking specifically about money, it’s also time and emotional support) knowing that the value of the final prize will be so big, that will make these small investments look ridiculously small.

And spend, and spend, and spend until, at some point, tired or even broke, you want your prize. You know you won the lottery, you paid your “processing fees” and now you want the reward. Alas, you will instantly find out that the reward was never there. As in the classical lottery scam, it’s either completely nonexistent (the woman simply dumps you) or it’s just something you don’t want (like the “let’s just be friends and I told you already you shouldn’t expect more than that from me anyway” thing we all got at some point in our lives).

What happened? You traded some amounts of your life (translated into various types of support, like time, money or emotions) on something that you thought it will be an order of magnitude higher. But you forgot one essential aspect: you were never signed up to that competition. Most of the time there’s no competition at all. You thought you were in, because you wanted to, and, most of the time, that’s what you’ve been lured to believe. But in reality, there was never an authentic intention for a real bonding from the other side.

Many of the relationships I see around myself are just variations of this specific case. One of the partners is a parasite to the other, feeding with his or her money, or time or emotional support, in an endless expectation of the other partner for a bigger exchange, that, of course, never happens. That’s a very common “life lottery scam”.

But it also happens in jobs, or in professional relationships. For instance, during some conversations with your boss, you suddenly start to perceive small hints that a new promotion will be in place soon. Also, you get some signals that you’re going to be a “real candidate” for it.

What do you do? You start working your ass for it like never before, because you now know that you already won the prize. Finally, something good is happening to you at this stupid job. But when the promotion time arrives, you either learn that it was never something about a promotion, or that somebody else will get it in your place.

Again, you traded your work hours, your ideas, your input for something that you thought it’s a done deal. Only it wasn’t. Just another form of “life lottery scam”.

The Surprising Scammer

One very important difference between the standard “lottery scam” and what I call the “life lottery scam” is about the scammer. In the standard “lottery scam” this is very easy to spot. It’s another person (sometimes a group) who just wants your money. But in the “life lottery scam”, the scammer – and I’m sure this is gonna be a huge surprise for you – is not always outside.

Most of the time, the scammer is you. Yes, you. You project your expectations, and goals, and hopes on a certain situation, without properly assessing it. You think you won something, without really taking the time to be sure about it. You just think you did. You take your suppositions for granted and start to build on this incredibly thin foundation. And when the weight of the building is reaching a critical point, namely when you want your “prize”, the foundation collapses.

And it’s only then that you realize that you weren’t in any competition at all. There was no prize to be won. You just traded your time on a ghost. More important, on a ghost you created yourself.

You Can’t Win A Competition You Never Signed Up For

The bottom line in this scam – and the reason for this blog post – is that you can’t win a nonexistent competition. Or one that you never signed up for. Make sure you’re competing in something real, not just your own projections.

If something feels too good to be true, then usually it is to good to be true. Don’t fall for it.

Just ask questions until you get your answers. And, most important, start by asking questions to yourself. Investigate, uncover any half-explained information, immerse yourself totally in any interaction until you find out what you need to find out. Which usually is just the answer to a very simple question: “is this for real?”.

There is this secret desire that something will happen outside us, something that will drastically improve our existence. And this desire grows stronger and stronger over years. The less you do your work, the more you expect somebody else to do it for you.

Well, I got news: there’s nobody out there capable of doing your work. Only you.

4 thoughts on “The Lottery Scam”

  1. Well stated … anyone willing to earn a huge amount of money without too much or no work implied would surely have no idea how to spend or even worse … how to invest them, so they won’t be able to make any good use of them … sure if they win, and the chances are let’s see , quite the same as the world will end tomorrow 🙂

  2. I totally agree that one can’t win a competition they never signed up for. I partially disagree with your life lottery scam theory, though, in regard with seeing an attractive woman or a promotion at one’s job as “prizes”. It seems to me that winning a girl’s heart or getting a job promotion are not goals, but processes, just like happiness.

  3. Great advice Dragos that I will definitely take to heart. It makes so much sense and it can be challenging to keep it top of mind and remember when you are too caught up in a situation, but that really is what we need to do. I love the advice to ask yourself questions. It is always so true that if we are patient, the answers will always come and we will be pointed in the direction we should go in. Great post and message.


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