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Better Business Bureau releases study on sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams

Jun 18, 2018, 8:02 am

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Scam AlertScam Alert: Better Business Bureau releases study on sweepstakes, lottery and prize scamsRating:

A new report by the Better Business Bureau says sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams are using ever-changing methods to hurt victims financially and emotionally.

The frauds concentrate on seniors, targeting them by direct mail, cold calling, social media, text messages and smartphone pop-ups.

BBB warns consumers to be on guard against the serious frauds and their perpetrators.

The report — "Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How 'Winners' Lose Millions Through an Evolving Fraud" — notes these scams bilked at least $117 million out of half a million Americans and Canadians in 2017 alone.

Seniors are the most frequent target and suffer the largest losses by far in these scams.

The report found the scams commonly originate in Jamaica, Costa Rica and Nigeria.

The report recommends stronger law enforcement efforts in Jamaica, which has seen an increase in violence related to lottery fraud profits; in the U.S., where law enforcement is urged to step up extraditions and prosecutions of overseas fraudsters operating in the U.S.; and globally, as law enforcement agencies worldwide are encouraged to take steps toward holding deceptive mailing organizations accountable and stopping mail fraud.

The report also urges social media platforms to take steps to weed out fake profiles and make reporting fraud easier.

Among the report's key findings:

  • The majority of lottery or sweepstakes scam victims are between 65 and 74 years old. Among that age group, people who recently experienced a serious negative life event and who expect their income in the near future to remain steady or decline are even more likely to be victimized.
  • Sweepstakes or lottery fraud can strike through many channels — phone calls, text messages, pop-ups on a smartphone's Internet browser, social media and mailings.
  • In 2017, 2,820 individuals reported sweepstakes and lottery scams to BBB Scam Tracker. These reports show a median loss of $500, with wire transfer as the most common method of payment.

Jamaica is a major source of "cold calls" to victims who are told they have won money.

Although similar calls come from Costa Rica, the scam has had a major impact in Jamaica, where the amount of money generated by lottery fraud has resulted in gang wars among rival fraud groups.

This has also led to a dramatic spike in violence. More than 95 percent of reported fraud in Jamaica involves lottery or sweepstakes scams.

BBB offers the following tips for consumers to avoid lottery or sweepstakes fraud:

  • True lotteries or sweepstakes don't ask for money before you claim a prize. If they want money for taxes, themselves or a third party, they are most likely crooks.
  • Call the lottery or sweepstakes company directly to see if you won. Publishers Clearing House does have a sweepstakes but does not call people in advance to tell them they've won. Report PCH impostors to its hotline at 800-392-4190.
  • Check to see if you won a lottery. Call the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries at 440-361-7962 or your local state lottery agency.
  • Do an Internet search of the company, name or phone number of the person who contacted you.
  • Law enforcement does not call to award prizes.
  • Talk to a trusted family member or your bank. They may be able to help you stay in control of your money in the face of fraudster pressure.

Salisbury Post

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19 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Bleudog101.
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hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

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May 21, 2007
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    music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
    USN United States Navy
    Fresno, California
    United States
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    August 2, 2014
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    All 65 too 74-year-olds should be aware that they are targets.  Thank You for this crime update.

    Mad

     "We are all in this together!" 

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      Simpsonville
      United States
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      January 22, 2015
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      Just had a call from a fake Windows support place.  Said to depress two buttons; I didn't, it will shut your computer down and cripple it.  He said 'what do you see on the screen?  Todd won't let me put my response on here, but it was a doozy.

       

      The keys are the picture of windows and R simultaneously, don't do it!!

        CDanaT's avatar - Nolz june15.jpg
        Central TN
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        January 4, 2012
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        65-74 hunh ?..... hmmmmmmmmmm, guess that means i still have about 8 good years left before I start losing my money.......<rubbing hands>...... Time for a plan of attack

        Integrity: There is just no substitute.

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          Simpsonville
          United States
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          January 22, 2015
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          65-74 hunh ?..... hmmmmmmmmmm, guess that means i still have about 8 good years left before I start losing my money.......<rubbing hands>...... Time for a plan of attack

          They start earlier than 65, trust me. 

           

          A few months ago a guy said when can I come and claim my (fake) prize money.  Said I'm already @ the airport, where are you?

           

          Get some on FB too, though I've learned not to 'friend' them the hard way.  They scammed into my account sending out brand new friend requests.

            Avatar
            Chasing $ Millions.
            White Shores- California
            United States
            Member #136473
            December 12, 2012
            6312 Posts
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            They start earlier than 65, trust me. 

             

            A few months ago a guy said when can I come and claim my (fake) prize money.  Said I'm already @ the airport, where are you?

             

            Get some on FB too, though I've learned not to 'friend' them the hard way.  They scammed into my account sending out brand new friend requests.

            If Alzheimer’s can begin in one’s 40’s, believe you me, crooks can start taking advantage of a person at any age. From the person on the street claiming to be an illegal immigrant and possessing a supposed “ winning jackpot ticket” that they are willing to trade for a reduced fee of thousands of dollars, to getting these bogus phone calls- one has to be alert at all times. Rule of thumb: If you don’t recognize the number, don’t pick up the phone. There is no shame is looking at the number & walking away. Do it a few times & it becomes a good habit. Think of these bogus calls, like being approached by a prostitute, just walk away..why? Because you can!

             * Voice of Reason *   

             

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

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

              If Alzheimer’s can begin in one’s 40’s, believe you me, crooks can start taking advantage of a person at any age. From the person on the street claiming to be an illegal immigrant and possessing a supposed “ winning jackpot ticket” that they are willing to trade for a reduced fee of thousands of dollars, to getting these bogus phone calls- one has to be alert at all times. Rule of thumb: If you don’t recognize the number, don’t pick up the phone. There is no shame is looking at the number & walking away. Do it a few times & it becomes a good habit. Think of these bogus calls, like being approached by a prostitute, just walk away..why? Because you can!

              Cheers Excellent advice noise-gate.I Agree!

               "We are all in this together!" 

                Avatar
                Kentucky
                United States
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                February 14, 2006
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                True lotteries or sweepstakes don't ask for money before you claim a prize. If they want money for taxes, themselves or a third party, they are most likely crooks.

                Good advice, but I doubt the people at risk are read it. Is greed or ignorance the reason people lose thousands to the scam artists?

                  Avatar
                  Chasing $ Millions.
                  White Shores- California
                  United States
                  Member #136473
                  December 12, 2012
                  6312 Posts
                  Offline

                  True lotteries or sweepstakes don't ask for money before you claim a prize. If they want money for taxes, themselves or a third party, they are most likely crooks.

                  Good advice, but I doubt the people at risk are read it. Is greed or ignorance the reason people lose thousands to the scam artists?

                  It's a little of both Stack: Greed & ignorance. Picture this, you old,all alone, hoping to talk to someone someone who cares about you. Suddenly, out of blue, you get this phone call, that sultry voice on the other end of the line is telling you that THIS is your lucky day. Not only are you getting this call from Heather, but she is telling you that you are NOW  a multimillionaire. You could have sworn you heard Angels sing. This is not the kids, but a total stranger bringing you the greatest news. No one has done this before, your name has been chosen, out of millions.. wake me up,hold my head under water,  pinch me!  You know the rest..

                   * Voice of Reason *   

                   

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

                    grwurston's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                    Win Today.
                    bel air maryland
                    United States
                    Member #90247
                    April 24, 2010
                    9412 Posts
                    Online

                    Just had a call from a fake Windows support place.  Said to depress two buttons; I didn't, it will shut your computer down and cripple it.  He said 'what do you see on the screen?  Todd won't let me put my response on here, but it was a doozy.

                     

                    The keys are the picture of windows and R simultaneously, don't do it!!

                    The last time I got a call from them I had some fun. When they said to press the two keys and tell them what was on the screen. I just kept saying, "I pressed them but nothing happened." They gradually started getting more and more mad and eventually hung up. I had them on the phone a good 15 minutes.  That was fun!!!  Green laugh

                    "You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame baseball player.

                    The numbers will tell you what numbers to play. Pay attention to the numbers.

                      Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                      100
                      Zeta Reticuli Star System
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                      January 17, 2006
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                      Wasn't there an article in News recently about millennials getting scammed almost as often?

                      Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

                      Lep

                      There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                        DEE88's avatar - animal doggy2.jpg
                        100
                        PA
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                        January 18, 2009
                        20024 Posts
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                        The last time I got a call from them I had some fun. When they said to press the two keys and tell them what was on the screen. I just kept saying, "I pressed them but nothing happened." They gradually started getting more and more mad and eventually hung up. I had them on the phone a good 15 minutes.  That was fun!!!  Green laugh

                             I also had fun with them  grwurston. the last time they called they said they were from Dell  (now I have a Dell computer but Dell does not call you you have to call them if you have a problem )  and he said that he was getting error messages about my computer and has a virus..  So I said to the guy.. well I'll tell you what.. you called me so you tell me what you see on your computer and you tell me what you see cause my computer is fine I am looking at it right now and don't see any error message or viruses on it..

                           He hung UP...  LOL

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                          Simpsonville
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                          January 22, 2015
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                          Wasn't there an article in News recently about millennials getting scammed almost as often?

                          Saw the tail end of the BBB thing on the news.  It said small businesses were scammed to the total of 7 billion last year if I counted the zeros correctly.

                            Artist77's avatar - batman14

                            United States
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                            January 16, 2012
                            7642 Posts
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                            Just had a call from a fake Windows support place.  Said to depress two buttons; I didn't, it will shut your computer down and cripple it.  He said 'what do you see on the screen?  Todd won't let me put my response on here, but it was a doozy.

                             

                            The keys are the picture of windows and R simultaneously, don't do it!!

                            Lol That just opens the dialog box to type in the name of a program.  Look it up. You all crack me up. It is a command for Run.

                            Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grace.  We will rebuild!