With lottery fever spreading, scammers look to cash in

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With lottery fever spreading across the Mid-South, those hoping to win big should take heed of lottery-related scams making the rounds.

According to the Better Business Bureau, lottery scams are the third most reported scam, and just a few weeks ago, federal regulators even issued a warning for consumers.

So, how does it work?

The phony caller claims to be with a government group called the Consumer Protection Agency and tell the potential victim they have won a huge amount of money in a Make-A-Wish Foundation lottery sweepstakes.

The caller ID may show a 202 area code, which is Washington DC, but the crooks are likely just faking it with special technology.

The thieves then ask the person to wire money or pay using a gift card to cover insurance or taxes associated with the winnings.

Experts told WREG they try their best to make it sound real.

“We want to think we’re going to be that lucky one in three million people who’s going to win money somewhere and the crooks are professionals,” said Nancy Crawford. “They have scripts that they follow and they have carefully scripted answers for every objection that you’re going to raise.”

The scammers even tell the consumer not to tell anyone about the calls until they receive their winnings.

Keep in mind, if you didn’t enter a sweepstakes, it’s likely a scam. And the biggest red flag of all is you don’t have to pay money to claim winnings.

Be sure to spread the word to your loved ones and others you might know that could be a target for this scam.