BBB warns Illinois residents of surge in raffle and lottery scams
CHICAGO – The Better Business Bureau is warning residents of Illinois not to fall victim to lottery and raffle scams this summer.
The association urges residents to do their homework and never pay any money before claiming a prize.
The consumer resource says crooks will profit from the dramatic increase in financial losses suffered by many people during COVID-19, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recording a more than 35% increase in reported dollar losses.
“Because these crooks are so good at what they do, anyone could be a victim,” Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said in a statement.
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The main targets of these scams are adults over 55, who account for 72% of fraud reports received by BBB Scam Tracker in the past three years.
“This updated research highlights how these scams work and the importance of educating seniors and others who may be susceptible to these scams,” Bernas said.
BBB scam tracker warns scammers of sweepstakes through various channels: phone calls, email, social media, mail notifications and text messages.
“After profiling the victim, they take on any role – friend, authority, person in need – to better work on their crimes,” Anthony Pratkanis, professor emeritus at the University of California, said in a statement. .
Scammers can pose as well-known sweepstakes such as Publishers Clearing House or a state or provincial lottery.
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“The crooks also employ different voices, sounding bossy at one point, speaking as a partner to others, or even acting as a supplicant asking for help to finally bring up the prize,” Pratkanis said.
Better Business Bureau warns that lottery scammers also often use victims as “money mules” to receive money paid by other victims and then transfer the money to the crooks.
The BBB encourages people to use these tips to protect themselves from fake sweepstakes and lottery offers by scammers.
- Real lotteries or raffles don’t ask for money. If anyone wants money to pay their taxes, themselves or a third party, they are probably scammers.
- You must participate to win. To win the lottery, you must purchase a lottery ticket. To win a raffle or a prize, you must first register. If you don’t remember it, it’s a red flag.
- Call the raffle company directly to see if you have won. Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does not call people ahead to tell them they have won. Report PCH imposters on their website. Check if you actually won at 800-392-4190.
- Check if you have won the lottery. If you are told that you have won a lottery, call the North American State and Provincial Lottery Association at 440-361-7962 or your local state lottery agency to confirm it.
- Search the Internet for the company, name or phone number of the person who contacted you. Check BBB Scam Tracker to see if other consumers have had similar experiences.
- Law enforcement officials do not call or award prizes. Verify the caller ID and don’t send money until you have done so.
- Talk to a trusted family member or to your bank. They might be able to help. You can also call your local BBB office to help identify a scam.
For more information on summer lottery and raffle scams, visit BBB.org.