Fraud Alert: Man loses $45,000 in lottery scam, prompting warnings from BBB

If you didn't enter, you can't win.

This is the message from the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina after a man lost $45,000 to a lottery scam. The man thought he won a lottery through the BBB.

Alyssa Parker, with the BBB of Eastern North Carolina, says, "Scammers are gonna use the names of legitimate organizations, it obviously offers a little bit of more ump to their scam but, you know, consumers need to be aware that that is just a tactic."

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Unfortunately, scammers try to catch you off guard by using a name you're familiar with, like the BBB.

In this case, the scammers claimed to be BBB employees and told the victim to get his winnings; he just had to pay 45,000 in taxes. He sent the money, but the lottery winnings never came.

"We just urge people to be aware that you're not going to win any lottery that you don't enter," Parker adds.

The BBB says fraudsters involved in this type of scam will use email or a phone call to convince people they've won a lot of money from a sweepstakes, lottery, or other game of chance. They often count on the person not remembering that they entered the contest, so they can then convince them to pay taxes, shipping costs, or provide some personal information to claim the winnings.

When it comes to payment, the scammer often asks for it through a wire transfer, prepaid card, gift card, or in some cases, cash tucked into a magazine sent directly through the postal service. Often, they tell the victim not to tell family or friends.

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The BBB says another version of this scam includes victims getting a letter informing them they've won a jackpot, often from a foreign lottery.

The letter includes a seal or other insignia to make it look authentic. There is even a check to cover the taxes on the winnings. The recipient is instructed to deposit the check into a personal bank account and then wire or use a prepaid debit card to send the "taxes" to a third party. The check is a fake, and the account holder is out the money.

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The key Troubleshooter takeaway to remember is when you win a lottery, you don't need to pay money to get the money, instead, the taxes are taken out of your winnings. Another tip to remember is that real sweepstakes will not notify via text message or bulk mail. They will not send a check in the mail without first confirming with the winner. If they want you to respond immediately, that is also a big red flag.
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