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Sweepstakes scam calls are on the rise

The state attorney's general's office said they receive 20,000 scam call reports a year.
The state attorney's general's office said they receive 20,000 scam call reports a year.(WALB)
Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 7:43 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The State Attorney General’s Office said scam calls involving sweepstakes are on the rise and older people are being targeted the most.

They said that people who are 55 years or older have lost over $900 to sweepstakes scams on a yearly average.

“He said ‘ma’am you have won the large sweepstakes of’. He said ‘are you ready for this are you sitting down?’ I said yes. He said ‘you have won $3.5 million dollars,” said Elizabeth Lauren.

From fax machines to telephones, emails, and cell phones. These types of calls have been going on for over 40 years.

73-year old Elizabeth Lauren was almost tricked a few days ago.

“Ma’am, I swear to you on a stack of bibles that I’m not pulling your leg, this is the actual truth,” said the scam caller.

The scam caller was claiming that he was with the Publisher’s Clearing House.

Lauren said she has been participating in these types of sweepstakes for years.

73-year old Elizabeth Lauren said the scam caller told her he swore on a stack of bibles that...
73-year old Elizabeth Lauren said the scam caller told her he swore on a stack of bibles that he was not scamming her(WALB)

“He said ‘you need to have $259′ and I went from excited and overzealous to totally furious in two seconds flat. And I told him ‘how can you do this to people.’ ‘How can you pray on people like this?” said Lauren.

The scam caller even claimed that Steve Harvey will be coming to her house.

He then told her to go to a local store like Walgreens or Walmart to pick up a claim card and this is when she says she figured it’s a hoax. The scam caller ended up hanging up but she was concerned because she had a feeling that this could be happening to many more people.

Communications Coordinator of the state attorney’s general office, Shawn Convoy says this is the quickest way to detect if you’re being scammed.

Communications Coordinator of the state attorney's general office, Shawn Convoy said you will...
Communications Coordinator of the state attorney's general office, Shawn Convoy said you will never be required to pay a fee or obtain gift card information to provide the caller. Anytime you're provided to give funds back.. it's a sure sign of a scam.(WALB)

“If it is a legitimate sweepstake, you will never be required to pay a fee or obtain gift card information to provide the caller. Anytime you’re provided to give funds back, it’s a sure sign of a scam,” said Convoy.

The state attorney’s general’s office said they receive 20,000 scam call reports a year.

Convoy added that the best thing you could do is block numbers you don’t recognize and continue to report these scam calls.

The scam caller was claiming that he was with publisher's clearing house
The scam caller was claiming that he was with publisher's clearing house(WALB)

The State Attorney General’s Office also offered tips to avoid being scammed:

• You are a winner, but you don’t recall ever entering the contest. This may sound obvious, but many people are so excited about winning that they don’t stop and wonder how their name could have been drawn. And even if you have entered a sweepstake, keep in mind that the actual chances of winning are very slim. For example, the odds of winning the grand prize in the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes are 1 in 1.75 billion.

• You have to pay to receive your prize. Legitimate sweepstakes will NEVER require you to purchase anything or pay a fee in order to claim a prize.

• You are asked to wire money or pay with gift cards. Scammers love to use these payment methods because it is virtually impossible to trace who received the money or for the sender to recoup any money after it has been sent.

• You are asked to provide your bank or credit card information. Scammers want access to your money. So they offer the convenient option to have your “winnings” deposited directly into your bank account. Then they turn around and drain your account. Never give out your financial account information to a stranger.

• The letter announcing your win contains typos. Sweepstakes scams are often perpetrated by people outside of the United States. If you receive a prize notification containing many typos or which sounds like it was written by a non-English speaker, it is probably a scam.

• The letter claims to come from a government institution. In order to look more legitimate, scammers may claim they are with a government entity, often inventing such agency names. The fact is, government organizations are NOT involved in awarding sweepstakes prizes.

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