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BBB says prize scam expanding to social media

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-05 19:19:36-04

People have seen the adds; win a $1,000 gift card to Walmart only to realize it's a scam.  The BBB is warning citizens of an evolving scam that's been around for decades.

The Better Business Bureau says sweepstakes, lottery, and prize scams have taken $117 million from more than half a million people in the U.S. and Canada in 2017.  Seniors, usually between 65-74 years old, are the most frequent targets and suffer the largest losses.

These scams still come through the mail and through text, but lately Facebook has been the biggest place where criminals can contact people.  They either use enticing adds, or contact you through a friend's account that was hacked.
"I think personally to be on guard and then to warn others, to let people know you associate with that you've read a study, you've seen information and this is 100% guaranteed to not be legitimate," said Jim Hegarty, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Nebraska, SW Iowa, South Dakota, and Great Plains Kansas.

John, an Omaha native, says he received a Facebook message from a friend saying he'd won $100,000 in March 2017.  In fact, his friend's account had been hacked.  John wanted to use the money to help kids in Tanzania so he sent $9,000 to help get it delivered, but nothing ever came.

"You feel frustrated but it just means go back more to prayer and that's the way I handled it," John explained.

Most of the criminals are from Jamaica and are experienced in defrauding people.  The BBB says there has been some success arresting the scammers in Jamaica, but more should be done.

If you'd like to report a scam visit: BBB Scam Tracker