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BBB: Lottery sweepstakes scams hitting Treasure Valley again

Posted at 9:42 AM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 11:42:23-05

Better Business Bureau says a familiar scam is circulating through the Treasure Valley once again. It's known as the "foreign lottery scam" and BBB's Dale Dixon says it starts with victims getting a call, email, or message on social media.

Scammers claim you've won a large amount of money, a car, or a trip, and all you have to do is contact the phone number provided to claim. But, BBB says once you do, you're told you need to pay taxes or a processing fee to receive your prize.

"We have received a number of reports to BBB’s Scam Tracker from people across Southern Idaho who’ve received this scam this month. In one version, the supposed 'winner' was told he needed to pay a registration fee for the car he’d won. Another Idahoan said the caller seemed to know a lot of information about him. The scammers had done their research. In all the reports, there is one thing in common, the supposed 'fees' couldn’t be deducted from the prize money," Dixon said.

So how do people continue to fall victim to this scam?

"It’s so enticing to think you’ve won a large amount of money. One woman sat in our office and told the story of how she lost more than $15,000 because she thought she’d win enough money to set up her children for life," Dixon said.

If you are told you are a winner, BBB recommends keeping this in mind:

Don't pay to claim your prize. You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of requests to wire money or use a prepaid debit card.

You can't win a contest you didn't enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you've been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.

For more information, visit www.bbb.org.