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Jefferson County
Better Business Bureau of Southeast Texas
News Release
Tuesday, February 02, 2010

New Lottery Scam Fraudulently Claims to Be From Better Business Bureau

Beaumont, TX – Better Business Bureau warns that a new scam is fraudulently using the organization’s name in order to steal tens of thousands of dollars from victims who are led to believe they have won a lottery. So far, one victim has lost $80,000 to scammers posing as BBB employees.

Several individuals have reported to BBB that they were contacted over the phone or via e-mail by someone claiming they were with the Better Business Bureau. They were told that they had won a lottery and that, in order to receive the prize, they must first wire money back to the scammers.  In some cases, the scammers used the names of real BBB employees—directing victims to legitimate bios and profiles on BBB’s Web site—in order to bolster their ruse.

“Many people are struggling in the current economy and when someone tells you that you’ve won millions in a lottery, it can seem like an answer to prayer,” said Michael Clayton, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Southeast Texas .  “Every year, tens of thousands of people contact BBB about a suspicious lottery and instead of cashing in, many lose thousands of dollars they don’t have.”

Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that the organization does not run a lottery nor award prizes to consumers. Anyone who receives a call, letter or e-mail about winning the lottery should consult the following checklist in order to avoid falling victim to a lottery scam:

Make sure the story checks out. Always confirm the facts directly with the organization the representative claims to be from—whether it’s Better Business Bureau or any other organization. Use contact information that you found on your own from the organization’s Web site; don’t rely on phone numbers or Web links provided by the representative. Scammers often pretend to be from legitimate businesses or non-profits and a quick call directly to the organization can help set the record straight.

Never pay money to get money. Lottery scammers make their money by convincing victims that they have to pay money up front—to cover such costs as taxes or fees—in order to receive their winnings. Because it is extremely difficult for the victim to track or retrieve money sent via wire transfer, scammers will often use this as their payment method of choice.

Don’t fall for the phony check. Scammers will often send a check in the mail to the victim with the instructions that—in order to receive the full prize—he or she must deposit the check and wire back a portion of the funds to cover fees or taxes. This gives the victim a false sense of security because the check will clear initially, but eventually be discovered as a fake. The money is then taken out of the victim’s account and he or she is out the funds sent to the scammer.

If you have been contacted by someone posing as a Better Business Bureau employee, contact your local BBB and report the incident.

For more information, visit www.bbb.org.  In Southeast Texas , call 409/835-5348 or 800/685-7650.

About BBB

BBB, the leader in advancing marketplace trust, is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability Reports® and charity BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is a difference in viewpoints. The organization is also a recognized leader in developing and administering self-regulation programs for the business community, and, with respect to the advertising industry, does that through a joint venture in conjunction with National Advertising Review Council partners. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 123 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada , evaluating and monitoring more than four million local and national businesses and charities. Visit www.bbb.org for more information.




USO-Houston
Jim Guidry Commentaries


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