Sweepstakes scam costs North Dakotans more than $366,000 in past 12 months – North Dakota News

Sweepstakes scam costs North Dakotans more than $366,000 in past 12 months – North Dakota News

The scam involves telling residents they have won a prize and they must pay “fees” before they are awarded the money. The ploy isn’t new to North Dakota, and the state Attorney General’s Office has issued several warnings over the past few years, according to a news release.

“Elderly individuals who live alone are favorite targets of scam artists and are particularly vulnerable,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement. “If the initial call is successful, the scam artist knows they have hooked their next victim, and they get to work, reeling the individual in with empty promises and relentless phone calls.”

An 80-year-old said she was told she won $2.5 million and had sent in more than $50,000 to the scam artists, while another victim was told to meet a “prize notification team” at an airport. No one showed up, but by that time he had sent the scammers more than $200,000.

Some victims were told they won a prize from Publishers Clearing House, according to the state Consumer Protection Division.

“Victims also reported they had been instructed to keep the ‘win’ secret, and they were even coached on what to say if someone found out and tried to convince them it was a scam,” said Parrell Grossman, director of the division.

Residents who receive these calls are urged to hang up if they believe it is a scam. Some red flags include:

• Being told to pay money before receiving the prize.

• Sending money to residents, asking them to cash it and then requiring them to wire it back to the scammers so it appears the money doesn’t come out of pocket.

• Having victims use alternative forms of payment, such as gift cards,…

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