We tell you about scams almost every week now.
Many target people of all ages but the Georgia Attorney General is concerned about a sweepstakes scam that is specifically targeting older citizens.
“We are urging consumers to get involved and speak with their friends and family about how to avoid this scam and others,” says Attorney General Chris Carr. “We have an obligation to protect our older, at-risk citizens, and a conversation about this scam is the best first-line-of defense. Just recently, our office created an Older Adult Consumer Protection Guide to help support Georgians in this effort. It is available for free download on our website.”
Carr says the sweepstakes scam surfaces from time to time and is making the rounds in Georgia again.
Seniors may be contacted by someone calling on the phone, by mail, by fax and even by email or a pop up add on a website.
It’s the same old story: the victim is told they’ve won a sweepstake (one they never remember entering) but first they need to send some money to cover fees and taxes.
The money will be sent via a Moneygram wire transfer.
Carr says in this scam the money is likely transferred to another country. In every scam, there is a big red flag and that is the payment method. It’s always quick cash that can’t be traced.
So if you are ever asked to send money via MoneyGram or Western Union or GreenDot cards or iTunes cards, you can bet you’re dealing with a con artist.
The Attorney General says in this particular scam if the victim has dementia or some kind of cognitive impairment and gives money once that may be an unfortunate signal to the con artist.
The crook may contact the older person a second or third time and demand more money.
To report a sweepstakes scam, contact to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at consumer.ga.gov or call 404-651-8600.
The Attorney General’s office also says that sometimes scammers will try to add “credibility” to their con by sending a check for a few thousand dollars to cover some of the fees.
But the victim is always asked to deposit the check into their own bank account and then wire most of the money back.
The check is a fake and depositing it into your own account will get you into trouble. Banks are required to make money available within a couple of days but that doesn’t automatically mean the check has actually cleared.
It can take up to ten days for that. By the time the bank realizes this check is a fake, the victim has taken out money and wired it back to the crook.
Unfortunately, it will then be the victim who is responsible for paying back their own bank.