By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
The number 13 for many may be an unlucky number, and for one Boise resident it remains an unlucky number.
Wayne is a strong believer that good things come to people who do good things. He’s always supported the web browser Google. His first and only Internet email account is a Google Gmail.
That’s why he was earnestly elated to receive the email that declared he was the winner of the Google 13th Anniversary Awards. The prize – 800,000 British pounds – about $1,008,232.75 on today’s exchange rate.
“I’m one of 20 winners,” he says. “I couldn’t believe I was selected.”
That’s when Wayne did the right thing. He contacted Better Business Bureau and brought a printout of the million-dollar email to the office.
In it he was instructed to contact Mr. Phillip Benson, +44 703 174 0762, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and receive instructions on how to claim the prizes he’d been selected to win. The letter was signed by Susan Leonard, Awards Notification Officer.
The claim agent was to collect personal information to release the award.
BBB reminds you that if you receive a letter or phone call informing you that you’ve won money or a prize or a trip in a contest you entered, be cautious. While there are legitimate contests, there are many which are not. Prizes in legitimate contests are awarded by chance and contestants don’t have to pay a fee, prepay taxes, or buy anything to enter or increase their odds of winning. International sweepstakes are illegal in the United States.
Google is not running an award program.
This is just the latest among scams that target people who let themselves to be swept away by dreams of free money. Some offers arrive via computer; others enter the home through direct mail or the telephone. In addition to phony sweepstakes announcements, BBB report that consumers are receiving
- suspicious foreign lottery solicitations (from UK, Australia, Canada, Spain and other countries) advising winners to send money orders for hundreds of dollars;
- notifications of cash awards from international security firms or disbursement offices that demand payment up-front to cover entry, judging or postage fees; and
- phone calls from people claiming to be representatives of reputable retailers, who want to “reward” loyal customers with special gift certifications or cash cards, after payment of a delivery fee.
Wayne shook his head, left the email, and mumbled as he left, “Just like they say, if it sounds…..”