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Don't Get Hooked: Sweepstakes scams

Jamaica is a hotbed for sweepstakes scams.

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

The Better Business Bureau has released the results of a multi-year study focusing on sweepstakes and lottery scams.

The study notes that most of the scams originate out of Jamaica, most of the victims are over 60, and there are things you can do to make sure you and those you love don't get hooked.

Sanjay Williams would call to tell you that you had won a sweepstakes. All you had to do was pay taxes, insurance and other fees to collect.

And many did pay…although no one collected.

The Jamaican was caught while visiting the United States to buy lists of more potential victims.

The Better Business Bureau, in a new report released Tuesday, estimates that U.S. and Canadian citizens lost close to two million dollars in 2017 to sweepstakes scams.

"This type of call...the sweepstakes call...you've won money...it's running rampant to the tune of over 500,000 people in the last three years," says Mike Rohrer with the Arkansas BBB.

Rohrer says the report gives several reasons why seniors are favorite targets.

Fraudsters hope to find people with early-stage dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Also many seniors have more money and are easier to contact because they have had the same phone number for many years.

New scams use text messages, pop-up ads or social media sites like Facebook to offer gift cards or smart phones.

Rohrer says the best thing to do when it seems too good to be true...is do nothing at all.

"The minute you connect or call back because you say oh I lost a call or missed a call...you have now given them a live number to call,” explains Rohrer. “And that number will be sold and resold and resold."

Meaning...you will get more scam calls. The best advice is...when you win, you collect money. You are not asked to pay money.

You can't totally prevent fraudulent mail or phone calls but you can sign on to an elderly loved ones bank account and keep an eye on activity.

Air date: June 5th, 2018

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