Here’s how it works — scammers falsely claiming to be with Better Business Bureau are calling consumers and announcing that the consumer has won a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes. There’s just one catch — the scammers say the consumers must pay $250 to $350 upfront by wire transfer to receive the prize.
Of course, the callers are not with BBB, and there’s no prize. If the money is wired, it’s lost.
One consumer told BBB in Dallas that she got a call from someone claiming to be with BBB, who told her that she won a large amount of money and to wire $500 to a Mr. White in Florida.
Another consumer said, “I was informed by a Mr. Young that I had won a large sum of money from a raffle drawing. He also said I have to Western Union 365 dollars. He also mentioned an agent Ms. Walker and Mr. Moore coming to my house.”
Of course, the BBB doesn’t make any calls about winning prizes. The scammers are using the BBB name to try to gain some credibility. Don’t fall for it, and don’t wire money upfront to anyone you don’t know.
BBB offers these tips on prize schemes:
• If you’ve really won a prize, you don’t have to pay anything in advance — not a penny for taxes, fees, or anything else. It’s illegal to charge upfront for a prize.
• If anyone claims you’ve won a prize, been awarded a grant, or makes some other alluring offer but wants you to send hundreds or thousands of dollars in advance by wire, don’t do it. Scammers like to use this method of payment because once the money is wired, it’s in their hands and it’s almost impossible for the victim to get it back.
• If you get a call or email about wiring money upfront, just ignore it. If you’ve actually lost money to a prize scheme, report it to your local police department and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov.
For more tips on avoiding scams, see BBB’s Scam Source at
For more on phone fraud, see FTC’s “Who’s Calling? Recognize and Report Phone Fraud” at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/phonefraud/index.shtml
Has a phone scammer ever called you? How did you know it was a scam?