Never pay money to claim a prize – WBKB 11 | #socialmedia

ALPENA, Mich. — If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is warns Better Business Bureau (BBB).  The organization said sweepstakes and lottery scams resulted in higher financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the previous three years, particularly for older people. BBB warns consumers never to pay money to claim a prize. If anyone asks for money before delivering a prize, it is likely a scam.

Shortly after his wife died in 2020, a Kalamazoo area man in his 80s was contacted by scammers who told him he had won second place in a popular sweepstakes, winning $2.5 million, a brand-new luxury car, and gold medallions. He subsequently began talking to the scammers daily on the phone, reaching out to them even after his daughter changed his phone number. He withdrew money from his retirement account and opened a separate account, sending a total of $72,000 in cash to an address in Mississippi before his daughter cut off contact between him and the scammers.

Older adults are the primary target for sweepstakes scams

People over the age of 55 continue to be the primary target of sweepstakes, lottery, and prize scams, representing 72% of fraud reports for this type of scam received by BBB Scam Tracker during the last three years. Of the older consumers who were targeted, 91% reported that they lost money. Adults over 55 lost an average of $978 while those 18-54 lost an average of $279, according to Scam Tracker reports.

“The people most affected by these scams are usually the ones who can least afford to lose the money,” says Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “The promise of a life-changing amount of money can be overwhelming. Once people start realizing all the ways their life will change, it is hard for them to say no when the scammer starts asking for money.”

Lottery scammers use social, email, phone

According to BBB Scam Tracker data, sweepstakes scammers reach out through phone calls, email, social media, notices in the mail, and text messages. They may impersonate well-known sweepstakes such as Publishers Clearing House or a state lottery. The “winner” is told to pay taxes or fees before the prize can be awarded. People increasingly are asked to buy gift cards to pay these fees, but they also may be asked to pay via wire transfer or bank deposit into a specified account, or even cash sent by mail. In reality, the prize does not exist.

How to tell fake sweepstakes and lottery offers from real ones:

If you think you have been a target of lottery/sweepstakes fraud, file a report with:

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