Americans have lost $227 million in fake sweepstakes and lottery scams, according to a report from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The report was first reported by CBS News on Thursday, which outlined how Americans lost money in 2020 over the scams.
The study sought to examine the impact of fake lottery and sweepstakes scams since the BBB published an in-depth review in 2018.
The Bureau said that since the study was, complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, The Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have increased 16 percent.
However, financial losses reported to those agencies rose dramatically in 2020, with the FTC reporting an 35 percent increase in dollar losses.
According to BBC, people over the age of 55 represent 72 percent of fraud reports over theist three years. Of these consumers, 91 percent said they lost money.
The bureau said that confinement and isolation that older people experienced during the coronavirus pandemic may have driven an increase in losses.
Adults over the age of 55 lost $978 million on average, while Americans aged 18-54 lost an average of $279.
BBC said scammers reach out through several mediums— including phone calls, email, social media and text message.
They’ll often impersonate well-known sweepstakes such as Publisher’s Clearing House, and the “winner” is told to pay taxes or fees before they can get their prize.
People may not realize that the prizes don’t exist before paying thousands of dollars.
The BBB advises to never pay money to claim a prize. The Bureau says that if anyone asks for money before delivering a prize, it’s likely a scam.