(WXYZ) - The Better Business Bureau issues a press release after a phone scam had one Michigan woman thinking she won hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Back in June, the Southfield woman says a man posing as a Better Business Bureau employee told her she won $250,000 from the Publisher’s Clearing House. The Publisher’s Clearing House is known as a sweepstakes company that awards prizes anywhere up to ten million dollars.
However, the Better Business Bureau says it is never involved in any type of sweepstakes along with other tips to spot a scam in their recent press release.
In order to claim the prize the woman was first asked to wire the taxes on the winnings.
Sensing something was wrong, the woman contacted authorities and the Better Business Bureau. The company posed as her daughter and verified it was a scam after talking to the man and before any money was sent.
The woman says the situation was so crazy and hopes other people don’t get scammed like this.
BBB NAME USED IN PUBLISHER’S CLEARING HOUSE SCAM
The Better Business Bureau is warning the public that consumers are receiving calls from a man who claims to work for the Better Business Bureau. In these calls, he is alleges that he is conducting an investigation to ensure that Publisher’s Clearing House awards are getting to winners. He advises consumers they have won an award and need to send money to receive the award.
BBB warns consumers this is a scam and one of several we have seen using the Publisher’s Clearing House name and the federal law dictates that no money can be paid in order to win a prize.
One recipient of these calls was Janet Marshall, a senior Michigan resident who was told she had a sweepstakes win of $250,000 from Publisher’s Clearinghouse and that she needed to send $499 to a New York address, via wire transfer. Ms. Marshall hung up without agreeing and then called the Better Business Bureau. She received a subsequent call and she hung up and called the New York Police and the FBI to report it. The BBB followed up by calling the number and was able to determine that it was a scam and that the individual did not represent the BBB or Publisher’s Clearing House as he was unable to answer “off script” questions about either organization, including their addresses.
BBB offers the following advice:
Record the call if you can, or take notes and then contact the BBB– the BBB will never contact consumers about lottery, sweepstakes, or prize winnings. BBB does not conduct sweepstakes, and will never act as an agent in administering money to a consumer. You can contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or (248)223-9400.
You must enter to win. Remember lottery tickets must be purchased and sweepstakes must be entered to win. Sweepstakes usually involve application paperwork that you have personally completed and government grants have a thorough application process as well.
Never pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. If you have to pay to collect your winnings, you’re not winning. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize.
Never wire money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money’s gone, there’s very little chance of recovery. Likewise, resist any push from the caller to send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier. Con artists recommend these services so they can get their hands on your money before you realize you’ve been cheated.
Phone numbers can deceive. Internet technology allows con artists to disguise their area code so it looks like they’re calling from your local area. But they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
Watch the grammar. If the scam comes in writing - scam letters, faxes or emails are often full of grammatical and spelling errors.
Ask Questions: If the caller has a difficult time answering any “off script” questions, this is a red flag that it’s not legitimate. Ask for the address of the BBB they are calling from, who their boss is, etc.
Never provide personal information. Scammers can be very charming and charismatic and will lure or pressure for personal information.
Foreign lotteries are illegal. Beware of lottery applications or win announcements coming via telephone or mail from outside the country. Foreign lotteries violate federal law and participating in any way is illegal. The only legal lotteries in the United States are state-run.