Especially during the holidays, the thought of winning a large sum of money without doing anything for it sounds appealing. But it's exactly that hope that schemers hope to prey on. You may get a phone call saying you've won a prize. But if you didn't enter any sweepstakes, or are being asked for money up front, consider those red flags.
Willie Stevens told our news partners at WUSA 9 she has entered Publishers Clearinghouse drawings for 20 years. But then she got a phone call. "He told me he worked with Dave Sayer. [...] You're a second place winner and we need $5,200 for you to pay your tax."
Stevens always dreamed of winning. But she sensed something wasn't quite right when the caller told her to wire the money to a West Virginia address.
The same thing happened in the Triad this summer. 2 Wants to Know talked with two ladies, who both almost fell for similar schemes.
Willie Alston got a phone call saying she'd won $1.4 million. "I said, 'What's the catch'," she responded. "He didn't say anything for a few minutes. And then he said, it will cost you $2,000 to receive the money and I said, 'Oh, that's the catch!'"
There's always a catch. Whether the schemers contact you by phone, by email, or even by Facebook, you should know they're only looking for two things.
Adam Levin with Credit.com said, "The reason why they approach you is really two-fold, either to get your money or to get your personal identifying information.
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 98,000 complaints related to these schemes. Even Publishers Clearinghouse has tips and warnings on its website to warn customers about this growing trend.
So let's review:
- There's no such thing as free money. If you didn't enter, you can't win.
- A legitimate lottery will never make you pay taxes on your winning up front.
- If you're in doubt, tell someone you trust and get their opinion before sending anyone any money.
WUSA 9/ WFMY News 2