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Did you get a letter claiming that you won a big prize?
“Congratulations! You’ve won [fill in the blank.]”
Or, has someone called you and claimed you’ve won a cash award?
Don’t be fooled. It’s a scam.
Sergeant Tim Abell at the Lebanon Police Department is warning local citizens to not fall victim to these scams. Unfortunately, he’s currently working a case involving a local woman who lost a sizeable amount of money after being scammed by criminals possibly located in the Philippines.
“If anybody contacts you on the phone and are advising you that you won some type of lottery or game or whatever… anytime anybody tells you that you have to pay a fee to claim the prize, it’s bogus,” he said.
According to Abell, a local woman received a phone call by someone who advised her that she had won a lottery, but she was going to have to pay some money to receive her full award. The scammer gained the woman’s confidence and, as a result, she has lost a sizeable amount of money, Abell said.
The scammers advised the woman to put the cash between the pages of a magazine and send it to them, which is what she did. Abell has been tracking a portion of her money, which has led him to three states.
“And it’s still on the run,” he said.
It’s believed that, for the most part, most of the money is going back to the Philippines, Abell said. And, it’s likely more people have been scammed locally, but out of embarrassment they don’t report it to police, he said.
“They do need to notify the authorities because there’s a chance they could recoup some of their money,” Abell said. “And people do need to notify the authorities so other people can be made more aware of what is going on.”
Learn more about how to protect yourself from telemarketing fraud and other scams at www.consumerfed.org/fraud.
Danger signs of telemarketing fraud
- Pressure to act immediately or you’ll lose this great opportunity.
Promises that you can make easy money working from home.
- Offers to help you get a loan, fix your credit record, settle your debts, save your home from foreclosure or recover money you’ve already lost to a scam, if you pay a fee in advance.
- Guarantees that you can make big returns on investments with little or no risk
- Requests that you pay a fee to enter a sweepstakes or lottery or send money for taxes, bonding, or legal expenses to claim your winnings.
- It’s also a danger sign if a prize is being offered as part of a sales pitch
and the telemarketer doesn’t tell you that no purchase is necessary.
- Another clue that it’s a scam is how you’re asked to pay. Fraudsters usually want to get paid fast and in cash – they don’t want to wait for your check to clear or to have payments go through credit cards – so they’ll look for other ways to get the money. If a telemarketer has money transfer as the only method of payment it accepts, it’s probably a scam.
- Some fraudsters are exploiting new payment methods – for example, they may ask you to load money onto a prepaid card and send it to them, or tell you to put money on a MoneyPak, a product that can be used to transfer funds to prepaid cards or make payments to authorized merchants, and give them the serial number.
* Source: Consumer Federation of America