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Sweepstakes, lottery scams cost Americans more than $111 million in 2017

Jun 5, 2018, 3:45 pm

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Scam AlertScam Alert: Sweepstakes, lottery scams cost Americans more than $111 million in 2017Rating:

A new study reveals sweepstakes, lottery and prize-related scams cost Americans millions of dollars each year. The Better Business Bureau calls these schemes some of the "most serious and pervasive frauds operating today."

In the past three years, the group says more than 460,000 Americans have reported losing a total of over $330 million to such scams.

The Better Business Bureau says these crooks are professionals. They might take advantage of someone in your family, and they can be very convincing.

Allen Walker had just moved to St. Louis in 2015 when the call came in on his cellphone, telling him he'd won $94,000. It would be delivered soon and all he had to do was send in a fee to cover the taxes.

"They said congratulations, Mr. Walker, you have just won the Jamaican sweepstakes," Walker said. But the promised riches weren't delivered. "They kept on telling me, 'Oh, well, he took the wrong route. He will be there soon, just wait.'"

Walker sent in two checks totaling $5,500 — all his savings. Still, he waited for the prize. Then he got repeated calls to send money to different people. That's when he realized it was a scam.

"I really felt kind of empty inside and ridiculous that I got, you know, beat like that," Walker said.
Steve Baker, the lead investigator for the Better Business Bureau, says 2,820 people reported sweepstakes and lottery scams to the BBB's scam tracker in 2017.

"Most of the people that are cold-calling you are from either Jamaica or Costa Rica," he said.

That same year, the FTC and the FBI combined received 145,881 complaints about the scams and losses of $111,835,001. The BBB's study said scammers contact their victims to get their personal information every way they can: through cold-calling, text messages, Internet pop-ups, the mail, and social media like Facebook.

"The fact that they have really migrated to social media means that's a huge new audience that's being introduced to these," Baker said.

Facebook told us in a statement, "These scams violate our policies... We have a dedicated team and automated systems to help detect and block these kinds of scams."

Baker encourages relatives and friends of older consumers to help them avoid becoming fraud victims by educating them.
"If you think you've won a lottery or sweepstakes and somebody wants money for taxes or for a third party or for any other reason, they're crooks. Do not send money," Baker said.

Baker said the number of victims could be up to ten times higher than actually reported because victims are often too embarrassed to admit they were scammed. If you think you're being scammed, search the names of "sweepstakes" companies on the Internet — they'll often pop up with complaints from others.


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9 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by LISTENTOME.
Page 1 of 1
picktowin's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg
United States
Member #49377
January 28, 2007
4074 Posts

This has been going on for years.

Why are people so dumb and fall for it ?

    hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

    United States
    Member #52343
    May 21, 2007
    3343 Posts


    personally I blame those "Professional Pill Pushers" aka one's primary care Drs and others who ought to have thar licences pulled !!

      Tucker Black's avatar - Kleber Vieira.jpg
      Reno, NV
      United States
      Member #173299
      February 25, 2016
      334 Posts

      You would think that people would say "I'm not going to send you money; you send me the after-tax amount", you know, like it is for EVERYTHING... wages, lottery winnings $600+, casino winnings $1,200+, etc.

        United States
        Member #163184
        January 22, 2015
        2439 Posts

        None lately on Facebook.  Had two though that they allegedly work for Publisher's Clearing House and I friended them.  Then the same spiel would come that I won $250K and needed my name and address to where to send the check to.  I said the real PCH has my name and address and that this was a scam.  You talk about some angry folks.

        Same for alleged California Lottery employees.  I'd play along for a while then say, lying like they do, that the CA lottery does not know who you are.

          music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
          USN United States Navy
          Fresno, California
          United States
          Member #157851
          August 2, 2014
          3959 Posts

           "WOW !!  Really I never win anything. You are joking right! I am going to hang up because I just cannot believe my good luck. Thank You for calling me. Goodbye" Green laugh

           "We are all in this together!" 

            United States
            Member #153801
            March 26, 2014
            772 Posts

            It is hard to feel overly sympathetic to the victims when the scam is so obvious.

              Chasing $ Millions.
              White Shores- California
              United States
              Member #136473
              December 12, 2012
              6526 Posts

              Many of these victims live alone, or they want their independence, away from their children, away from the " stop telling me what to do" in life scenario. That is where, in many situations, these problems arise. On the other hand, children have, in certain cases, "shipped their parents" to retirement homes, where they want nothing to do with their aging * so called loved ones, and lo and behold, they taken advantage of, shipwrecked, where there is no one to steer them away from these scams. There is nothing wrong in attaching notes, to the refrigerator or other areas of the home with the simple words " Mom, Dad, if anyone asks you for money over the phone, please call us first, we love you."

              The kids. 

              *** Doing nothing, is nothing doing! 

               * Voice of Reason *   


              People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                United States
                Member #32651
                February 14, 2006
                9095 Posts

                This has been going on for years.

                Why are people so dumb and fall for it ?

                People play PB and MM every drawing believing some day it will be "their turn to win" so it's not all that far fetched some after hearing they won the "Nigerian Lottery", believe they actually won it. From there how much they are willing to pay to get their "winnings" depends on the "winner's" greed.

                How much would anybody spend if they believed they could a PB or MM jackpot?

                  New Member
                  United States
                  Member #181365
                  April 25, 2017
                  7 Posts

                  NO lottery is more Corrupt than the OHio Lottery!

                  May 7th they changed their lottery website, It did not work for nearly 5 whole weeks ! yep, not any day but two June 1 & 2, 2018,

                  .....May7th thru June 3 DID NOT WORK!

                   they deliberately failed to mention it was not working properly, Ironically, and another indication those who set up the new website & Those who chose (thru a kickback?) the "company" to try & put up a new website.. should be FIRED and Jailed!

                  The completely USELESS "help line" to call ONLY takes notes "escalates" (takes dictation for them) is the most useless PS ever.

                  again, NEVER did they acknowledge they had a new website which failed miserably, in the entire first month.( and counting.....!)

                  WHY they chose May 7th, when 90 % of all who enter in non-winning tickets for "rewards" (please hold the laughter til the end...) had a limit which were probably fully submitted.. these, AT LEAST , were unable to enter any entries for a new "3-4-5" sweepstake/contest whereby one was suppose to enter in tickets, yet IT NEVER WORKED the entire time (MAy 7-June 3) except for two days (June 1 & 2)

                  there was suppose to be WEEKLY winners, then a grand prize winner at the end, but since it NEVER worked properly, one would think they would acknowledge their corruption, on the website ( of course not, it is the Ohio Lottery).....

                  to set up a new timeline for entries..or redo this "promotion",,, as none were allowed due to the incompetence of those who chose to set up a (faulty ) website...

                  YET they mentioned on their nightly drawings many times of this "3-4-5" promotion even though they KNEW it was NOT working...as well as Tv commercials for the same (non-existent) 345 "promotion".....

                  Do not even get me started on another promotion which did not work well during th same timeline ( Powerball Cruise "promotion"....)

                  Failure to admit they were not up & running properly and deliberately misled the public through commercials of a non-existent promotion is the worst case of fraudulent "lottery" there is....