According to the Better Business Bureau, in 2017 more than 100 Idahoans reported they were the target of sweepstakes, lottery, and prize schemes. BBB's Veronica Craker explains what she learned in a new study that takes a closer look at the scams.
"In this study we took a close look at the victims, the amount of money they lost and where the scams were originating. We found that these frauds concentrate mostly on older people, and the most frequent method of payment was wire transfer. BBB also discovered that Jamaica is a major source of 'cold calls' to victims who are told they have won money. Similar calls come from Costa Rica," Craker said.
Craker says the report found that in 2017, 2,820 individuals reported sweepstakes and lottery scams to BBB Scam Tracker, with a median loss of $500.
"We also know that nearly 500,000 people have reported this fraud to enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada over the last three years, and reported losses in 2017 alone totaled $117 million. The actual number of victims and losses is likely much larger, as many victims are too embarrassed to report it," Craker said.
So what do you do if you think you won big?
- Call the lottery or sweepstakes company directly to see if you won. Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does have a sweepstakes but does not call people in advance to tell them they’ve won. Report PCH imposters to their 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.
- 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.
For more resources, visit www.bbb.org.