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By: Juliant 2018-06-13 10:28:00 Comment: Rating:

Beware of Sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams

If it seems too good to be true -- it probably is.

A common scheme involves scammers telling people they have won a large amount of money in a lottery or sweepstakes. Victims send money, purportedly for taxes or other costs that must be paid before receiving a prize. Unfortunately, they never receive the promised prizes.

According to news and reports, nearly 500,000 people have reported this fraud to law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada over the last three years with reported losses of $117 million last year alone.

The actual number of victims and losses is likely much larger, as many victims are too embarrassed to report it.

While the scams’ roots go as far back in the culture as gambling, the fraud continues to evolve with the times -- and now include social media.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says about one-third of the complaints it receives about sweepstakes/lottery fraud occur over social media.

These frauds concentrate mostly on older people, who suffer the largest losses by far. In addition to money loss, victims often are emotionally devastated when they realize they have been defrauded: Some have resorted to suicide.

Sweepstakes frauds involve different actors, and the methods used to contact victims have evolved from direct mail to cold calling to social media.

Some fraudsters contact victims on their phones, using text messages or pop-ups on the browser claiming people have won large gift cards or new smartphones. The goal of this type of fraud is to gather information to sell to other scammers, and to get people enrolled in “free trial offers.”

Lotteries are illegal in the U.S. unless authorized by law. Sweepstakes, on the other hand, do not require any payment to obtain a prize. They mainly are regulated by state law. That’s why most sweepstakes specifically state “no purchase required.” One of the largest sweepstakes operating is Publishers Clearing House, where there is no required cost to participate. Any program that requests or receives money to award a prize, for any reason, will be considered a lottery, and therefore is illegal.

Those who think they may have won a lottery or sweepstakes should do a quick internet search before proceeding. Some fraud can be avoided by strengthening the privacy settings on social media platforms such as Facebook.

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Recent Comments

  • Nanci
    2018-09-18 11:30:06
    Call type: scam
    Rating: -5

    Said with IRS, being investigated wanted me to call this number to fix it. My caller ID said Scam?wireless caller

  • ...
    2018-09-18 11:30:03
    Call type: unknown
    Rating: 0

    3 rings then gangs up. this usually happens followed by at least two Indian call center scam calls with different numbers.

  • Meredith
    2018-09-18 11:29:50
    Call type: scam
    Rating: -5

    complete fraud spam

  • Common Man
    2018-09-18 11:27:41
    Call type: scam
    Rating: -5

    Fraud caller

  • Tracy
    2018-09-18 11:26:33
    Call type: scam
    Rating: 0

    Said I had a tax ID I do not lawsuit being filed. Listen Ed to message never answer calls like this. Total Scsm

  • BD
    2018-09-18 11:25:08
    Call type: unknown
    Rating: 0

    Phone number (404)464-6239 called our home at 1:25 AM on 9/18/2018. Did not answer.

  • Christopher
    2018-09-18 11:24:22
    Call type: spam
    Rating: -5

    Says I hae activated a CALL TRACE

  • Raymond Szabo
    2018-09-18 11:24:15
    Call type: unknown
    Rating: 1

    I received this number but I didn’t know who it was

  • Pissed off
    2018-09-18 11:23:30
    Call type: scam
    Rating: -5

    Calls every day .

  • Joslyn d
    2018-09-18 11:23:16
    Call type: harassment
    Rating: -5

    I don't know this number. caller said she is a paralegal. I don't owe any one money.

  • Gertrude
    2018-09-18 11:23:09
    Call type: harassment
    Rating: 0

    Weird people answering. Said I owed them money. I don't owe anyone any money.

  • Steve
    2018-09-18 11:22:49
    Call type: scam
    Rating: -5

    Sent a text to my phone addressing Wendy (not my name) with a link to 'complete APP'.

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