Sweepstakes scams continue to plague Snake River Region

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

With her grandson in a hospital back east, Idaho Falls resident Carol Jones says she mistakenly picked up the phone thinking it was going to be an update when she saw the 202- prefix.

The caller said he was with Lloyd’s of America and needed to discuss “her $350,000 winnings.”

“The minute I heard him say I would need to get a $250 Green Dot card, I knew it was a scam caller,” Jones says. She ended the call.

Sweepstakes/lottery scams use Lloyd’s or other insurance companies’ names to add credibility to the scam.The purpose of the scam is to steal the money sent for the supposed insurance premium.

Perpetrators of sweepstakes/lottery scams may also claim to be calling from actual or fictitious government departments or agencies trying to lend further credibility to their scam.Calls from pseudo-Publisher’s Clearing House to a woman from Shelley, an American Sweepstakes in Blackfoot, a Spain Lottery winner in Caldwell, and a US Consumer Protection Bureau prize have been taken at Better Business Bureau.

Scammers pretend to be official prize coordinators to get you to send them money. They might promise lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don’t pay a supposed debt. Regardless of their tactics, their goal is the same: to get you to send them money.

Anyone taking a call should not send money or talk to them. Lloyd’s and/or other insurance companies would never contact any person directly asking them to pay a premium to collect any ‘alleged’ winnings.

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.

If you get a call from a government imposter, file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint, with the BBB, 208-342- or rhicken@boise.bbb.org. Be sure to include:

  • date and time of the call
  • name of the government agency the imposter used
  • what they tell you, including the amount of money and the payment method they ask for
  • phone number of the caller (Scammers may use technology to create a fake number or spoof a real one, but law enforcement agents may be able to track that number to identify the caller any other details from the call.)

1 Comment

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One response to “Sweepstakes scams continue to plague Snake River Region

  1. Mark Burrows

    I would have hung up when they said Lloyd’s of America. The famous insurance company Lloyd’s of London has indeed branched out in the USA but even they themselves have been in heaps of trouble through the years not following the various rules and regulations that constantly change from municipality, to district, to county, to state. It took them years to establish themselves in only eleven states, they now have representation in every state, and territory of the U.S. I think it was just pay back because they were peeved with the British a couple of hundred years ago.
    Anyway, they never call themselves Lloyd’s of America, it is just simply Lloyd’s as it is worldwide except maybe in Britain and in the media where they like to stretch it out.
    Another point being is they are not desperados and would not be involved in any petty lottery unless billions of dollars were at stake. Lloyd’s have come a long way since the 1940s when they insured each of Betty Grable’s legs for a million dollars. I am sure agents were secretly wishing for her to trip so they could inspect her legs up close and um professional.
    These Green Dot only fees are getting pricey, and why would an esteemed company not take a personal check? You don’t mess with insurance companies, they hire their own private investigators who all have either police or military background and have gun permits to carry. Ripping off an insurance company can be deadly. Not that they would come after you with guns a blazing if you missed a premium payment, but if you stole valuable items that were insured or made a fraudulent claim and received a large settlement and then vanished, chances are as a criminal you would be equally armed and dangerous. Insurance companies rather recover than involve too much assistance from the police and relying on the taxpayer when the taxpayer is not involved with the crime. The taxpayer can to their duty meting out justice in a jury trial and providing a nice concrete and steel home for 10 to 25 without parole.
    So, now you know more about how the big insurance companies work. It just goes further to prove how invalid the scam is by throwing their names around trying to make themselves sound all high and mighty pompous, where in logic, they just look more like idiots.

    Mark Burrows

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