How the Scam Works:
You get a call from someone claiming you won a lottery. Your prize is $500,000, but you need to pay $5,000 for "delivery insurance" first. The caller assures you that this is a real prize and even directs you to the "US Consumer Protection Bureau" website to verify its legitimacy.
You decide to check out the offer, so you go to the website and call the phone number at the bottom. An "agent" answers and asks if you are calling about a lottery. He/She offers to check out your $500,000 prize, and, sure enough, verifies that you are real lottery winner.
Don't fall for it! This lottery scam has an extra layer of deception. The website and the "Consumer Protection Bureau" are fake and just part of the scam. The bureau doesn't exist, and the address given on the fake website is really for BBB's office in Arlington, Va.
Tips to Protect Yourself From a Sweepstakes Scam:
Lottery and sweepstakes scams are common. Here are tips to avoid them:
- You can't win a contest you didn't enter: You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you've been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.
- Verify -- but not by using a source scammers gave you. Check if an offer is real, but don't call the phone number in the email or website you suspect may be a scam. If it is a con, chances are the person on the other line will be involved too.
- Don't pay up to claim your prize: You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of wiring money or using a prepaid debit card.
- The only legal lotteries in the United States are the official state-run lotteries. Foreign lotteries are illegal.
For More Information
Thanks to the BBB of West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas for their reporting on this scam. Read their full alert here. To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.
This Scam Alert has been sponsored by Western Union, a BBB National Partner.