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Americans lost $ 227 million to fake raffles, fake prizes and lottery scams in 2020, new report says

A new report has found that Americans were robbed of around $ 227 million last year. The report details how Americans lost money in 2020 at fake sweepstakes, and prize and lottery scams.

The BBB says complaints actually declined last year, but the amount of money lost increased 33% from 2019.

Kathy Chapman said she couldn’t believe her 84-year-old father was the victim of a raffle scam. “I never thought my dad would be sensitive to this. It really shocked me,” she told CBS News consumer investigation correspondent Anna Werner.

Chapman said it started with calls to his Michigan home in January from someone claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House.

They told him he made money and more, just like the people in the familiar commercials. In his case, he was told he won $ 2.5 million, a brand new BMW, and gold medals – all he had to do was pay taxes and fees.

But after withdrawing thousands of dollars from multiple locations, her credit union alerted the police, who then called her daughters. When they confronted him about it, Chapman said he told them he just had to pay taxes and fees and then was going to get this big prize.

“And I said, ‘No, daddy, that’s not how it works,’ ‘she said.

Chapman discovered that his father had been instructed by the crooks to send them packages of money – in all, he lost $ 72,000.

“I’m still very angry. He didn’t do anything to anyone, he worked hard his whole life and he was abused,” she said.

Better Business Bureau investigator Steve Baker said these crooks are professionals and the schemes could be compared to a huge organized crime enterprise.

His report on sweepstakes, lotteries and prize scams found that scammers often talk to victims every day, building relationships of trust. They take careful notes on the victim’s family and try to isolate him from his family and friends. He said the crooks would use all possible methods of communication, including US mail, text messages, emails and social media.

In a fraudulent email claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House, photos of the winners and a bogus message from the Chairman of the Board are displayed. But a closer look reveals clues like typos.

“If your viewers get an email, a call, a contact, a letter saying you’ve won a prize, but you need to send money, tear up the letter, hang up the phone, and report it to the forces of the order because it’s a scam, ”said Chris Irving of Publishers Clearing House.

It’s a scam that Chapman says took a big chunk of his father’s life savings.

“I want to prevent this from happening to someone else. You know, to tell people that you have to be suspicious,” she said.

If you’ve lost money to a scam, report it to the BBB, FTC, and local law enforcement.


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