People are losing millions to lottery scams

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – There’s been a disturbing trend in sweepstakes scams and people losing millions of dollars.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2021, people lost more than $185 million to prize, lottery, and sweepstakes scams. These scams come third in the list of top frauds of 2021.

A Door County Action 2 News viewer contacted Consumer First Alert about one of these scams.

Garey Bies is a retired Door County deputy.

“The call came up on my answering machine that my wife had won $5.5 million and to call us immediately,” Garey explains.

“I know very well that if they ask you to pay something, it’s not real.”

Bies played with the caller in a detailed conversation about how to claim the top prize. Bies was told he had to pay 10% tax to claim the prize.

“This is the a-ha moment if they ask you for money, you should be warned it’s a scam,” says Susan Bach, Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.

Losses from price gouging are at their highest level in three years.

“In fact, our study shows that the typical victim is over 55 and loses nearly $1,000 when targeted by these scammers,” Bach says. “Ninety percent of the time they lose money.”

Bies wanted to alert people who might be looking for a quick payday during tough times.

“I think, especially in tough economic times, you know, someone could be in a desperate or difficult situation that they could fall into the trap,” Bies says.

Bies says he played with the scammer to get details to share with law enforcement.

“I hope this saves someone embarrassment or money, in particular,” says Bies.

If you fall victim to one of these scams, be sure to report it.

“The biggest change in this age-old scam is the inclusion of social media and reaching out to potential victims,” Bach says. “As with any type of lottery scam, if you didn’t enter you didn’t buy a ticket, if you didn’t enter there is no way to win.”

CLICK HERE for tips on spotting a lottery scam.

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