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 firstname.lastname@example.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.)