BBB: Sweepstakes Scams Cost Victims More During Pandemic-Esp Those Over 55

Jun 11, 2021

New research from BBB
Credit BBB

New research from the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan reveals Sweepstakes and lottery scams resulted in higher financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This, as compared to the previous three years.  Older adults were the primary targets.

The BBB is warning consumers never to pay money to claim a prize. If anyone asks for money before delivering a prize, it is likely a scam.

This latest research is an update of BBB’s 2018 in-depth investigative study, Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How “Winners” Lose Millions Through an Evolving Fraud.

Financial losses reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center rose dramatically in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, with FTC logging an increase of more than 35% in reported dollar losses.

Older adults, those over the age of 55 continue to be the primary target of sweepstakes, lottery, and prize scams, representing 72% of fraud reports for this type of scam received by BBB Scam Tracker during the last three years. Of the older consumers who were targeted, 91% reported that they lost money

Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan, says quote, "The people most affected by these scams are usually the ones who can least afford to lose the money,”

The BBB says lottery scammers use social media, email, phone calls in their efforts to scam.  Alleged “winners” are told to pay taxes or fees before they can collect their prize.  And in reality, the prize doesn’t exist.

The BBB says to recognize a fake, true lotteries or sweepstakes don’t ask for money. If someone wants money for taxes, themselves, or a third party, they are most likely crooks.

And you have to enter to win. If you can’t remember doing so, that’s a red flag.

If you think you have been a target of lottery/sweepstakes fraud, you can file a report on Scam Tracker at BBB.org/scamtracker.