OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - New research from the Better Business Bureau found that sweepstakes and lottery scams resulted in higher financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the previous three years.
"There has been a 16% decrease in complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). However, financial losses reported to all three agencies rose dramatically in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, with FTC logging an increase of more than 35% in reported dollar losses," the Better Business Bureau said in a release.
The Better Business Bureau said people over the age of 55 continue to be the primary target of sweepstakes, lottery, and prize scams. Of the older consumers targeted, 91% lost money.
"Adults over 55 lost an average of $978 while those 18-54 lost an average of $279, according to Scam Tracker reports," the Better Business Bureau said in a release.
The Better Business Bureau's research also found that quarantine isolation helped scammers sell their scams.
"After profiling the victim, they take any role -- friend, authority, someone in need -- to best work their crimes,” said Anthony Pratakansis, Professor Emeritus of the University of California. “Scammers often talk to victims every day, grooming them and building trusting relationships. They take careful notes of the victim’s family and other aspects of their lives, and like romance frauds, try to isolate victims from their traditional support structure."
According to the new research released Wednesday, lottery scammers are using social media, e-mail, and phone tactics to woo victims.
The Better Business Bureau warns customers never to pay money to claim a prize, and if someone asks for money before delivering a prize, it's likely a scam.
3 News Now Digital Content Manager Katrina Markel interviewed Joshua Planos, Director of PR and Communications with the Better Business Bureau. Watch the extended conversation about lottery and sweepstakes scams and how to prevent them.
Read more from the Better Business Bureau below, including tips on how to protect yourself from scammers.