Friday, May 13, 2011

BBB Targeted by Scam

The Council of Better Business Bureaus aims to protect the public from fraud, scams and con games.

Now the BBB is the target of a new scam: Crooks are 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:

BBB has been notified that an individual was contacted over the phone by someone claiming they were with the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The caller used the name Jacob Chasen and offered his phone number; however, it is not a BBB number. The caller indicated the individual had won a BBB lottery, but to receive the winnings, taxes and fees must be paid in advance.

“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 Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO of CBBB. “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. This one involves our name and so we want to get the word out right away that this is a scam.”

If someone calls and tells you you've won a lottery - or anything else for that matter, healthy skepticism (if not outright guffaws) are in order.

*Always confirm the facts directly with the organization the representative claims to be from. Use contact information that you found on your own from the organization’s website; don’t rely on phone numbers or web links provided by the representative.

*Never, ever, ever pay money to get money. Scammers of all stripes make their money by convincing victims that they have to pay taxes or fees up front in order to receive their winnings. These are called "advance-fee schemes" and they catch a lot of people every year. Don't be one of them.

*Scammers will often mail a check with instructions to deposit it and wire back a portion of the funds to cover fees or taxes. This gives the victim a false sense of security, until the check is discovered to be fake.

If you've gotten a call or email that sounds like this, contact your local BBB immediately to report the incident.

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