Congratulations! You Have Just Won The Lottery…Or Have You?

Photo by Chris Lundy

By Michael Deem

  Today’s world is filled with scams.  It’s becoming harder and harder to trust anyone.

  A new assault on victims is in the form of Lottery and Sweepstake scams.   These scams are becoming more and more common. They may come to you from social media, phone calls, mailings, e-mail and text messages-all saying that you have won money or prizes.  The scammers may even try to impersonate public figures, police, FBI, Lottery and Officials. To make matters worse, they have also mastered the art of cloning otherwise legitimate web sites and social media profiles. So how do you know if your winnings are legitimate? 

  Scammers like to ask for up-front payment, such as taxes, processing fees, delivery fees, legal fees or customer fees to collect your “winnings.”  Any payment requested in advance should be a red flag!

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  The most common up-front payment request is a monetary transfer, because these are like cash.  Other up-front payment schemes that are becoming popular include prepaid cards and iTunes gift cards because the scammers can access your balance if you give them the number from the back of the card or a PIN over the phone. Scammers may also ask that you send cash in the mail.  Once you give them cash they are likely to ask for more and more.  One trick the scammers use to entice victims to send more money is to claim that there is a larger jackpot at stake or that there was some error or problem that can only be solved with more money.  The scammers may even threaten violence.

  Never give these strangers your personal information. Don’t give them your banking information or credit card information.  The scammers will use this information to make unauthorized charges to your credit card or access your bank account.  The scammers can also sell your private information to other scammers. Some victims are asked to deposit fake checks and if that check bounces the victim will be responsible for the bounced check fee.

  If you have fallen victim to a scam you may be able to stop the damage.  Report the matter to your financial institution, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, Local Police, the State Attorney General, The Federal Trade Commission and the US Postal Inspection Service.

  The litigation attorneys at the Law Offices of R.C. Shea & Associates handle most consumer fraud claims on a contingency basis. A contingency means if there is no recovery, there is no fee. Call us for a free consultation: 732-505-1212.