The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents to be aware of a scam that recently surfaced. ACSO received a call Tuesday from an elderly citizen who reportedly lost several thousand dollars to a scam artist claiming that she had won $2.5 million dollars and a brand new 2016 BMW vehicle.
The victim stated she received an email from an organization entitled American Senior Citizens Sweepstakes Company, indicating that she was a winner in their prize contest. The email was followed up by numerous telephone calls to the victim from alleged representatives of the company, indicating that she needed to “act fast” or the prize would not be available to her anymore.
Over the course of a month, she spoke with several individuals who pressured her into sending money grams, money cards and money orders to various locations in the United States in order to guarantee delivery of the promised winnings.
The Sheriff’s Office warns citizens to be extremely cautious of this type of fraudulent communication.
Criminals who prey upon the elderly by using sweepstakes fraud and other telemarketing schemes can be very convincing, but you can avoid becoming a victim by keeping a few simple guidelines in mind. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency charged with preventing fraud and deceptive practices in the marketplace, offers these tips:
· Don’t wire or send money to accept a prize, ever. If you have to pay for a prize, it’s not a prize.
· Never give callers financial or personal information. Don’t give out sensitive information such as your credit card or Social Security number, unless you absolutely know who you’re dealing with.
· Don’t trust a name or number. Fraudsters use official-sounding names to make you trust them. To make a phone call seem legitimate, scammers use technology to disguise where they are calling from. Even though it may look like they’re dialing from a legitimate U.S. location, they could be anywhere in the world.
· Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. This won’t stop fraudsters from calling, but it should make you skeptical of random calls. Most legitimate sales people generally honor the Do Not Call list. Scammers ignore it. Register your phone number at www.donotcall.gov.
· Report the scam. If you get a call from a government imposter or someone attempting a sweepstakes scam, file a complaint with your local law enforcement agency and the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
“If someone is pitching something on the phone that doesn’t sound right, you always have the option to just hang up”, stated Sheriff John Skipper. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If they continue to call and hassle you, call your local law enforcement agency. We’ll be glad to call them back for you!”
For more consumer information and to sign up for SCAM ALERTS, visit the FTC website: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov.