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Southern Alberta & East Kootenay
Lottery scam targets Calgary senior - sparks BBB warning
July 10, 2014
 
   

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:

  • Understand where and how your information will be used. By signing up for a contest at a trade show or similar events, you run the risk of having your personal information sold or shared with other telemarketers.
  • You shouldn't have to pay to claim your winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes don't require you to pay to claim a prize. If you have to pay taxes or shipping or handling charges, it's not a prize.
  • If you didn't enter, you can't win. You have no chance of winning a prize if you did not enter into a sweepstakes or contest.
  • If you are asked to wire or send money, walk away. Do not send any money by cheque, money order or money wire transfer to claim your prize.
  • Confirm the mailing address. Contact the company directly or check out their official website to confirm their legitimacy before accepting a prize.
  • Read the fine print. Before accepting a prize, read the terms and conditions carefully for hidden fees or restrictions.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone. Never give your checking, credit card or other bank account information over the phone in response to a sweepstakes promotion. 

For tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.  

 

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Media Contact:
Leah Brownridge, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay
(403) 531-8793 or leah@calgary.bbb.org

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For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, founded in 1954, is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.

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