October , 2018

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CHICAGO, IL – Losing $80,000 going for the big win is a terrible lesson to learn. In the case of a West Suburban man, falling victim to a foreign lottery scam turned out to be disastrous. While fake sweepstakes and lottery scams have been around for years, people continue to get cheated out of money by them. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to watch out for these ways that thieves steal money.

In many cases, you get a fake check in the mail. In others, you get a phone call stating that you won a large amount of money, and all you need to do is send in a small payment to redeem the grand prize. Legitimate sweepstakes do not make you pay a fee to receive a prize.

Lee Williams, a retired man from Aurora, recently fell victim to a fake lottery scam. “They have been calling me for years and telling me that I won millions of dollars. I kept giving them more money and they kept telling me that they still need more in order to get me my prize winnings. I have spent what adds up to $80,000. I have asked questions, I’ve asked for proof–they always have some kind of answer but no money for me. I’m 73 and was a commodities broker. Now I have nothing and I am in a homeless shelter. I only wanted the money to leave something for my daughters and grandchildren. I know I won’t get my money back, I just want to warn other people.”

“When someone tells you that you’ve won millions in a lottery, it can seem like a solution to all your problems,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Many lose thousands of dollars that can permanently damage their lives.”

Avoid falling victim to a lottery or sweepstakes scam by being aware of these red flags:

  • You win a contest you never entered. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Whether it’s by phone or mail, scammers seek out their targets. Verify that it is a legitimate business by doing research on the company.
  • You are offered ‘too-good-to-be-true’ prizes. It is almost always a large sum of money, but there is always a catch. Scammers attempt to make it sound easy to claim your prize. The reality is it is very unlikely that someone will give away large sums of money with no strings attached.
  • You have to give personal information. Anytime someone tries to get your bank account number, Social Security Number or other sensitive information, that should be an automatic red flag. There is also no need to access financial information, like a credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion.
  • You have to pay to win. Don’t be blinded by the promise of a large sum of money in the future. If they are asking you to give them money first, that’s a red flag. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter or increase your odds of winning. Legitimate prizes do not come with processing fees, and taxes are paid directly to the Internal Revenue Service after winnings are collected.
  • You have to wire money or use prepaid debit cards. If you are asked to use these transfer methods in order to get a prize or any other large sum of money, that is a major red flag. It’s difficult to track these types of transactions, so you will have little to no way of getting your money back.

For more tips, visit www.bbb.org/chicago, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or add us on Pinterest.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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