DeWine Warns Consumers to Avoid Lottery Scams as Jackpot Rises
January 8, 2016 - 7:35 PM
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned
consumers to avoid lottery and sweepstakes scams as the estimated
Powerball jackpot hits $800 million.
In the past month, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection
Section has received more than two dozen complaints involving
sweepstakes or prize scams. The average reported loss is about $5,000.
“If you receive a call saying you’ve won the lottery, it’s almost
always a scam,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Con artists play on
what’s in the news, so we’re warning people to be wary of scams as the
Powerball jackpot grows.”
The scams often begin with a phone call or a letter claiming the
consumer has won a few million dollars through a lottery or sweepstakes.
In order to collect the winnings, consumers are told to wire a few
hundred or a few thousand dollars to cover fees or taxes. In reality,
they haven't won a prize, and any money they send will be lost.
Individuals who send money once usually will be contacted again and
asked to send more money to cover taxes, customs fees, or other costs
supposedly associated with delivering the winnings. As long as the
victim continues to send money, the scam artist will keep calling.
Signs of a lottery scam include:
Winning a lottery you don’t remember entering.
Receiving calls from a lottery or government agency saying you’ve won millions.
Receiving an unexpected check for a few thousand dollars.
Having to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
Having to send money via wire transfer or prepaid card.
Attorney General DeWine encourages consumers to take the following steps to avoid scams:
Be very skeptical of someone who calls you and says you’ve won the lottery. These calls are almost always scams.
Don’t wire money or pay a fee to receive your winnings.
Don’t give out your personal information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly over the phone or through email.
Be skeptical if you are asked to call an out-of-country phone number in connection with a lottery or sweepstakes win.
Be skeptical if you receive an unexpected check for a few thousand
dollars. It could be a counterfeit check used as part of a scam.
If you have older relatives or friends, look for signs that they have
been targeted by lottery scams. Red flags include unusual banking
activities, wire transfer receipts, or an increased number of phone
calls made to them.
Consumers should report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.
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