When times are tough and money is running thin, a letter that says you won thousands of dollars is like an answered prayer. But we're warning you: sometimes what sounds too good to be true is usually is a scam in disguise.
Imagine you get a letter in the mail that says "you won $50,000" and you're one of five winners who will share the jackpot. Joann Allen was one of them, or was she?
"I genuinely believed this was for real," she said.
Joann was so desperate to believe, she was already dreaming of buying a new home and a family vehicle for her children. "I got my hopes up," she said.
But then she got a gut feeling to contact NewsChannel 11. "I mean, I wanted to know before I did anything wrong before I got myself into a lot of trouble with something I didn't know was for real," said Joann.
It is a scam we have warned you about several times. Jackpot claims that make you believe it is the real deal, except for one thing.
"There was a check in the envelope for $3,725. They told me to call my claim agent. She told me to deposit the check into my account that it would be to pay for my U.S. taxes. Then I was supposed to call them when I got the money out of my account," explained Joann.
Joann was instructed to wire two payments to two different people. One was for $2,600 and the second was for $1,125. "She said they were supposed to be the people who paid my U.S. taxes," Joann said.
If Joann would have made a withdrawal from her account for that much money, before the supposed lottery check even cleared her bank, she would have been duped out of $3,700. And the reality of that is she would have had to pay it back.
So how did Joann know not to fall for this scam? NewsChannel 11 told her to call the Lubbock Better Business Bureau. Scam specialists there helped her inspect the lottery check. They told her to call the bank listed on the check. In this case, it was Dallas National Bank. So she called and found out the person she has been talking to with this bogus lottery was not in the U.S.
"We found out the area code was for Ontario, Canada," she explained.
BBB Director Nan Campbell says consumers need to know foreign lotteries are illegal in the U.S.
"It's really disappointing. It made me cry a lot," said Joann.
And even though Joann's hopes and dreams were crushed, at least she wasn't duped out of all that money.
Joann eventually reported the lottery fraud to the Royal Canadian Police. They have a central agency called "PhoneBusters." People there take complaints on fraud and investigate cases like this. Keep in mind, any one of us can fall victim to this, but older Americans are often the targets.
If you happen to come across one of these lotto scams, report it to PhoneBusters. Their toll-free number is 1-888-495-8501 or you can e-mail them at Info@phonebusters.com. You can visit them online at www.phonebusters.com.
|NewsChannel 11 Investigates|