July 10, 2014 - CALGARY, ALBERTA - What seemed like a normal day quickly turned to excitement when Jim Baker of Calgary received a phone call claiming he had won a cash prize. But excitement turned to suspicion when he was asked to provide personal information to receive mailed-out cheques to be cashed at an American bank. After a few calls back and forth, he realized he had become the target of a foreign lottery scam, and now Baker and his wife are now receiving incessant harassing phone calls.
Last week, Baker told BBB the phone calls have become so constant that his wife has become extremely anxious and has trouble sleeping at night, worried that the callers will show up at their doorstep demanding payment. Baker says he and his wife no longer answer the phone unless they recognize the number. All of this has happened after Baker received a cheque for $1,000 from Global Lottery and was specifically asked to cash it at Mutual of Omaha Bank. Once he discovered things weren't adding up, he stopped communicating with the callers.
BBB's President and CEO Sandra Crozier-McKee says scammers count on inexperience and an emotional reaction to winning. "It can be easy for anyone to get caught up in the excitement of winning a luxury prize or lottery," she says. "Scammers prey on people's emotions so it's crucial for people to keep their heads, remain calm and try to evaluate the situation objectively."
How the scam works:
People will receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a lottery company, usually called Global International, Mega Millions or something similar. In order to collect the winnings, people are told to either wire money or provide personal information in order to receive fraudulent cheques and told to cash them at a specific bank. Those who do wire money or cash the fraudulent cheques never see their prize or their money. Those who do not wire payment receive harassing phone calls several times each day demanding payment.
If you are considering entering a contest or if you get a phone call or letter claiming you've won a prize, BBB recommends keeping the following tips in mind:
For tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.
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Leah Brownridge, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay
(403) 531-8793 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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