October 21st, 2020

Be wary of prize schemes


By Submitted Article on August 28, 2020.

SUBMITTD BY THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

Sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams have not lessened their financial and emotional harm, despite concerted law enforcement efforts.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) data shows that consumers over the age of 65 account for 80 per cent of money lost in sweepstakes, lottery, and prize schemes. BBB cautions this group to be vigilant about recognizing and avoiding tactics used by scammers to prey on people during the COVID-19 crisis. Of the 4,417 sweepstakes and lottery scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker since 2018, nearly half came from victims over the age of 65. This age group lost $3.33 million of the $4.1 million. >

Scammers may reach out by phone, email, Canada Post or even social media. They may also contact members of the public claiming to be representatives of fictitious but legitimate-sounding organizations, such as the “International Gaming Commission” and the “Canadian Gaming and Lottery Commission.” Neither organization exists. >

Scammers have updated their sales pitches to potential victims to include COVID-19 twists. According to Scam Tracker reports, scammers are discussing supposed COVID-19 safety precautions for prize delivery, and attributing delays in awarding prizes to the pandemic. Many victims are being instructed to mail cash to scammers. Besides offering fake cash prizes, scammers may lure victims by also claiming victims will receive luxury cars, laptops or other high-end merchandise. People who have become victims of sweepstakes scams are likely to be contacted again by scammers. Many lottery scam victims keep sending money for weeks or months, thinking that each step is the last one before they get their winnings.

Tips for detecting and avoiding sweepstakes, lottery or prize scams:

– You’ve got to play to win. A notification that you have won a prize in a contest you do not remember entering should be a red flag. If you regularly enter contests or sweepstakes, keep track of your entries so you can easily confirm potential winnings >if someone contacts you. >

– True lotteries or sweepstakes don’t ask for money. If they want money for taxes, themselves or a third party, it most likely is a scam.

– Do an internet search of the company, name or phone number of the person who contacted you.

– Law enforcement officials do not call and award prizes. If you think you have been contacted by law enforcement, verify the identity of the caller and do not send money.

– Check to see if you won a lottery. Call the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries at 440-361-7962, the lottery agency or the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC).

– Talk to a trusted family member or your bank.

Where to report a sweepstakes, lottery or prize scams:

– Better Business Bureau: BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker

– Canadian Antifraud Centre: 888-495-7597

– Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC): Contact the AGLC at https://aglc.ca/ or call 800-272-8876.

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