Tens of thousands of dollars stolen from victims
Wallingford, CT – February 2, 2010 – Better Business Bureau warns that a new scam is fraudulently using the organization’s name in order to steal tens of thousands of dollars from victims who are led to believe they have won a lottery. So far, one victim lost $80,000 to scammers posing as BBB employees.
Several individuals have reported to BBB that they were contacted over the phone or via e-mail by someone claiming to be with Better Business Bureau. They were told that they had won a lottery and that, in order to receive the prize, they must first wire money back to the scammers. In some cases, the fraudsters used the names of real BBB employees and directed victims to legitimate bios and profiles on the BBB Web site in order to lend legitimacy to their scams.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says the ruse relies upon BBB’s reputation for trustworthiness.
“We have seen a number of variations of lottery scams, however this one is designed to put the victim at ease by using the Better Business Bureau name. Better Business Bureau wants consumers to know that the organization neither runs lotteries nor awards prizes to consumers.”
Better Business Bureau offers the following checklist for people who receive telephone calls, letters or e-mail claiming that they won a lottery:
Make sure the story checks out: Always confirm the facts directly with the organization for whom the representative claims to work – whether it’s Better Business Bureau or any other organization.
When attempting to verify the credentials of the scammers or the legitimacy of the lottery, don’t trust telephone phone numbers or Web links provided by the representative. Use contact information from the organization itself. Scammers often pretend to be from real businesses or non-profit organizations. A quick call directly to the organization can help set the record straight.
Don’t fall for the phony check: Scammers frequently send a check in the mail with instructions that in order to receive their money, the “winner” must deposit a check and wire back a portion of the funds to cover fees or taxes. Though the bank may accept the check for deposit, eventually it will be determined to be a fake, the bank will debit the victim’s account and he or she also will be responsible for any penalties imposed by the bank.
Never pay money to get money: Lottery scammers make their money by convincing victims that in order to receive winnings they must pay money up front to cover costs such as taxes or fees. Scammers will often require victims to deposit an authentic-looking check and wire back a portion of the money. They require the money be sent by wire transfer because it is extremely difficult to track or retrieve and allows the thieves to easily disappear with the money.
If you have been contacted by someone posing as a Better Business Bureau employee, contact Connecticut Better Business Bureau to report the incident at 203-269-2700.