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Better Business Bureau warns of lottery-winning scams

Nov 28, 2005, 11:06 am

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"Congratulations! Your name was attaached to a ticket that was recently drawn from a pool of 50,000 names for the lump sum of $250,000!"

Sound familiar?  Many consumers have reported receiving phone calls and letters from Judith Thompson, Fat Payment & Securities Inc., Sweepstakes Resources and Payment Verification Center, Canada, congratulating them on winning the lottery.

According to the Better Business Bureau, those are the names that scammers are using this week. The names change from day to day, but the scam remains the same.

After the phone call, the consumer receives a visit from a messenger service delivering a cashier's check in the amount of $3,850.

Next, "winners" are instructed to deposit the $3,850 cashier's check into their bank accounts and call the messenger service back.

Usually, according to the BBB, a few days later the "winner's" bank will call to inform that the cashier's check that was deposited has come back as a counterfeit or fraudulent cashier's check, and the account is overdrawn.

Tenn-Tucky BBB Branch Manager Lori Austin said she thinks this scam is concentrated in the Clarksville area because two consumers have contacted the BBB with similar stories.

If you receive a lottery, sweepstakes or prize notification, remember these tips:

  • Are you being directed to wire money, provide access to your bank account or credit card numbers or to forward any personal financial information in order to claim your winnings?
  • Did you actually enter the company's contest?
  • Do not be deceived by seals, official-sounding names or terms that imply affiliation with or endorsement by a government entity.
  • If you have truly won a prize, there should be no redemption fees, postage fees, delivery fees or other conditional rules to comply with in order to receive your prize.

For many people, winning the lottery is the American dream, but if in doubt, Austin said, always check it out with the BBB at www.gobbb.org.

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