Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/6/2018 (1308 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It happens frequently — you get a phone call, email, or text saying you’ve won a lottery you never entered. It asks you for personal information to claim your prize and it’s riddled with spelling errors, to boot.
It’s obviously a scam, and you shake your head, wondering why these scammers continue when their efforts are so poor.
They persist because many scams are a lot more sophisticated than that error-filled letter. Many fraudsters are professionals, using legitimate-looking emails or websites to con people out of their hard-earned money.
For example, imagine a friend reaching out on Facebook, telling you they saw your name on a company’s list of winners for being the thousandth person to like its Facebook page. These types of Facebook giveaways are common, and often legitimate, and the friend telling you makes it seem all the more real.
Except the "friend" is actually a scammer who may have bought your friend’s profile for as little as $5.20 on the ‘dark web.’ Or someone who simply copied and pasted your friend’s entire profile as their own. And the business is professional-looking, asking for you to pay a small tax or shipping fee to redeem your prize.
Scams can be quite sophisticated. Thousands fall prey every year. The Better Business Bureau estimates Canadians lost $2.88 million to lottery and sweepstakes scams last year. And that’s a conservative number. As many as 90 per cent of victims don’t report their losses.
A survey of victims in the United States and Canada found the majority were between the ages of 65-74. One individual lost nearly $8 million after scammers found all sorts of ways to contact and harass him, including pretending to be pizza delivery people to get his new phone number.
This type of harassment can also include threats. Scammers continue to ask for money from those who’ve already sent them some, and will threaten people with physical violence, using Google Earth images of their houses to pretend they’re nearby.
The emotional and financial tolls can be overwhelming.
The BBB wants you to protect yourself from scams by not believing the ones that ask for money, call the lottery company to verify you’ve won, search the name of the people who contacted you, or talk to a trusted family member.
The BBB provides more information and advice at http://bbb.org/h/jwhy
Better Business Bureau
BBB helps people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust.