With the help of a law enforcement task force we're giving you the information the con artists don't want you to have.
Sgt. Yves LeBlanc is with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He runs a task force called Project colt.
"These look like real sweepstakes entries," says Steve Daniels "Exactly," says Sgt. LeBlanc. "Some are very colorful, the more colorful the better, whatever attracts the eye," he continued.
Sgt. LeBlanc says you expose yourself to the scammers when you fill out a sweepstakes entry or enter a drawing for a prize at the mall. The people behind the contest sell your information to people called "Lead Brokers".
"People fill it out, it goes back to the lead broker, the lead brokers will then detach the bottom portion and this is the portion that they're going to sell to the Canadian telemarketers," says Sgt. LeBlanc.
Steve Daniels said, "everything they need to victimize someone, it has their phone, name, email, fax, everything they need. This is a hot lead right here."
Sgt. LeBlanc replied, "the important part too, is whether or not you have a credit card."
The con artists buy the pieces of paper then start calling the United States from boiler rooms in Canada.
"The telemarketer will call up the person on this piece of paper and say Mr. So-and-So, Mrs. So-and-So, you've won a million dollars, send us so much money," says Sgt. LeBlanc, describing the scam. He played wiretapped phone conversations for us that captured con men reeling in their victims.
Man -- I have here in front of me a cash claim entry form, completed and signed by you, however you failed to include your marital status? Would you be married, single, divorced or widowed? Woman - I am a widow.
Then, the con-man says she's won a prize.
Man-- I don't know if you've been sleeping with angels, but I have a cashier check being issued to you.
But, to get the money, she'll have to pay taxes and fees. The con-man quickly discovers she has plenty of money in the bank.Man -- What is the approximate flow you keep in your accounts? I don't need to know an exact amount, just an approximation, somewhere in the neighborhood of, is it over 10,000 over 20,000 just an approximation? Woman - A little over ten.
Sgt. LeBlanc showed us what happens next:
Sgt. LeBlanc: In this one they put bundles of money, there's approximately $9,000 in this magazine.
Steve Daniels: Nine thousand dollars in a magazine?
Sgt. LeBlanc: Every few pages you've got bundles of hundreds here.
The scammers convince the victim to send cash through the mail, hiding it in magazines to elude customs officers.
"We took this one apart, but these bills were scotch-taped to every page, you've got $9,000 in small bills like this," said Sgt. LeBlanc as he showed us the money.
A couple of days before we arrived, Project Colt intercepted nearly thirty thousand dollars hidden in magazines before it got to the con men.
Steve Daniels: "This could be money for anything, money for rent, money for food, money for medicine?"Sgt. LeBlanc: "Most likely this is someone's retirement money."
Sgt. LeBlanc says people of all ages become victims.
"You get it all. You get smart people ex-police officers, judges, retired people I'm talking about, who've all fallen for this type of scheme," says Sgt. LeBlanc.
"There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow," says Joan Fleming. She's an FBI Agent in Raleigh who's seen a lot of people in the Triangle lose money to these kinds of cons. She says she never enters sweepstakes - no matter the size of the prize.
"I personally do not fill out those cards," says Fleming. She continued, "I just don't do that, it's not worth it to me to think I'm going to win a new RV or a boat or a car."
Sgt. LeBlanc has simple advice to make sure you don't get taken.
"If someone's trying to get you to send money, to receive money there's a big red flag there, you shouldn't have to send one red cent to receive a prize or a winning," says LeBlanc.