WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Better Business Bureau has released the results of a recent study that shows thousands have fallen prey to sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams. They reported $117 million in total losses in 2017 alone. The Wichita Falls Area BBB is warning people about this specific type of fraud.
Texoma resident Kathy Papp was a target of a sweepstakes scam. The Iowa Park auto shop owner received a call in 2017. She recalls, "I was sitting at the supper table and my phone rang. This guy with a big, bold, boisterous voice said 'Congratulations! You've won the Winner's Circle."
The stranger told her she had entered a sweepstakes and won $750,000 and a 2017 Mercedes Benz. Kathy replied, "'Well that's great!' I said, 'Just send the check.'"
The person on the other end of the phone said Papp would have to pay the car title fees herself. She was to send $750 by Western Union to a woman named Celia Verdin who they claimed was a representative of their company.
Papp knew something was not right and did not send any money, but according to the BBB over 2,000 have fallen for such a scam.
CEO of the Wichita Falls Area BBB Monica Horton said those 65 and older are the main people who are targeted. She stated, "The sweepstakes scam is when you're contacted either via mail, email, phone call, social media, whatever it may be. They tell you that you've won a huge amount of money. Prize promotion type scams say you've won $100 if you enter this drawing, click on it to claim your prize, whatever it may be. Those types of scams are trying to steal your identity."
Those running these types of scams are usually operating from outside of the country, mainly in Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Nigeria.
The BBB said that a real sweepstakes, lottery, or prize contest does not require anyone to send money. They recommend that consumers never wire money to people they do not know.
If you have been targeted by this type of scam report it to the BBB at their scam tracker website.