Oct 10, 2011 3:50 PM by KATC Staff
The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is warning local residents to beware scams imitating Publishers Clearinghouse.
The BBB warns sweepstakes scams have cheated consumers nationwide out of millions of dollars in recent years. Such circumstances arise when people put too much faith in strangers in the belief they will win large sums of money or expensive vehicles and prizes.
In one recent case, sweepstakes scammers tricked an unsuspecting woman into giving him $500. The disabled woman said a conman tricked her into wiring the money after he told her she won $2.5 million dollars in the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
The unsuspecting woman was told she had to pay a $500 fee to cover the insurance for delivering the prize to her home. She went to her bank and withdrew $450 from the ATM machine, then went in and withdrew the last $50. She then wired the money through Western Union as she was instructed.
When the prize did not arrive as expected, she called the scammer and was told the van had two flat tires but the prize would arrive shortly. Later, the man called back to say the prize had been put on hold and she would need to pay an additional fee of $1,300.00..
When she explained she did not have the money, he offered to put her on a payment plan. She decided she was being duped and told the man she was reporting the incident to BBB.
Everyone dream of winning the lottery or a sweepstakes prize, but in most cases, prize notifications coming through the mail are nothing more than attempts to rob trusting consumers of their money. The woman said the $500 was everything she had in her savings and checking accounts. She had to wait for her next disability check before she could purchase groceries, buy medicine or pay rent.
The BBB office receives between 10 and 20 phone calls a day from people asking about lottery or sweepstakes notifications. And often, the callers cannot believe they are being scammed. The BBB has the following advice to anyone receiving notification of winning a prize:
·Foreign lotteries are illegal. Check the postage on the envelope and if it is a foreign stamp, throw the letter away.
·Remember that nearly all of these notifications are fraudulent.
·Never wire money - Wire transfers are like cash and can't be recovered.
·You should never have to send money to receive any winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes.
·Be suspect of winning something you never bought a ticket for or entered.
The BBB is an unbiased, non-profit organization which sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America.
The BBB of Acadiana service area includes Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion parishes. Start With Trust. Always check with the BBB before you do business. Please visit the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana at acadiana.bbb.org.