The allure of a multi-million-dollar sweepstakes 'win' blinded a Jefferson County man to the scam that induced him to fork over more than $41,000 over several months earlier this year.
His story is an object lesson for anyone who gets a phone call, email or other message implying that they've won a sweepstakes that they did not enter. Such calls, which often come from overseas, are always scams, especially if they ask the "winner" to pay taxes or fees to receive the winnings.
The man told the Better Business Bureau his story recently because he wanted others to avoid being scammed as he was. He asked for his identity to be kept private.
The scammer first called the man in March, claiming he had won $8.5 million, a BMW and a house in Miami. The caller then asked the man to use Green Dot MoneyPak cards and Western Union wire transfers to pay taxes and other fees associated with the sweepstakes. Such a request should be a red flag to anyone who gets such a call.
The man eventually realized it was fraud, but by then he had depleted his life savings. The full story is outlined in a BBB press release issued today.
The BBB has four tips for consumers who receive sweepstakes or lottery offers:
- Calls or emails about lottery or sweepstakes winnings are nearly always fraud.
- Never send a payment to anyone as a requirement for getting a prize.
- Never send a wire transfer or access number for a prepaid money card to someone you don't know. Money sent in this way is like cash and can almost never be recovered.
- If you have questions about a sweepstakes or lottery notification, check with the BBB at www.bbb.org or 314-645-3300.