7On your side: Sweepstakes rip off - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Sweepstakes rip off

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The Better Business Bureau says they get calls every week from consumers who get a phone call from someone telling them they've won a sweepstakes and asking for money to claim the prize.

It's a new twist on an old scam. The consumer gets a call from someone saying they've won a sweepstakes. And Carmen Million with the SWLA BBB says the call usually comes from Jamaica.

"These people are calling from an 876 exchange, which is from Jamaica, and of course we want to alert people right away that lotteries and sweepstakes outside the United States are illegal. You aren't eligible. You couldn't win if you wanted to," said Million.

The consumer is instructed to go to a department store and get a cash card to provide money for a prize processing fee.

"They want you to put anywhere from two to five hundred dollars on the card. Once you do that, they want you to call them back and when you call them back, or they may call you back, and when they contact you again they're going to tell you they need the numbers on the back of the card. Well consumers don't realize, is when they give that number,   that person can automatically withdraw the money off the card," said Million.

Then they give the consumer the runaround with stories about why they can't make it to their home.

"They will continue to contact the consumer and ask for money and unfortunately we know how this scam works because consumers have actually sent money," said Million. "They've wired money, they've purchased a green dot card, and they've given the company the numbers which means they've withdrawn the money. The bad thing about the scam is that the consumer will never see any money that they've sent.  And they are contacting a large number of consumers in our area."

And once they have invested money it can be hard to convince a naive consumer that they've been had.

"Unfortunately we're getting calls daily from consumers that not only have fallen for it but continue to send money, because it's like a gambling issue.  They've sent money, they've put this much money into it  and they feel like if they put a little bit more they'll get their money back on it," said Million.

But the BBB director says there's a sure fire way to stop the scam.  "The solution is, if people quit sending them money, they will no longer exist.  It's that simple."

So, remember if you've really won a prize they never ask you for money.

If you have a consumer issue you'd like us to check out. Call me at 337-437-7570 or send an email to tschmidt@kplctv.com

Copyright 2012 KPLC All rights reserved.

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