The most reported scams types were for Sweepstakes and Lotteries followed by Phishing, Tech Support and Employment scams. While these scams are common, not everyone fell for them. In fact, the scams with the most dollars lost were: Investment scams ($35,050), Online Purchases ($6,776), Romance scams ($5,000) and Government grant scams ($2,061).
Here’s how these top scams work:
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams often begin as phone calls with imposters claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House or other —usually foreign —lotteries, informing victims they won millions of dollars and a luxury car. One scammer claimed that “the call was being recorded by the BBB and also by Homeland Security.” Victims are told they need to send money for taxes and fees to obtain their winnings, usually by wiring the cash or buying prepaid cards, often iTunes.
- Phishing scams originate by email or phone calls. They range from offers to reduce student loan debt, money found in foreign countries waiting for “owners” to claim, to the “can you hear me now” scam where victims were asked a question to elicit a ‘yes’ reply. Scammers may have tried to use the ‘yes’ response to charge for online purchases.
- Online purchase scams included victims ordering branded items such as designer eye glasses and watches that turned out to be cheap fakes if the merchandise arrived at all, as illegitimate sites were also reported. Others reported multiple payments posted to their credit cards, sums larger than advertised, and automatic monthly subscriptions that weren’t obviously disclosed. Online purchase scans also included money sent for pets. In this scheme, victims are lured by cute photos and below market pricing for expensive breeds or ads offering the pets for free if “shipping” were paid. One victim lost $4,650 on a cockatoo that never arrived.
Visit BBB’s Scam Tracker at bbb.org/Scam Tracker/ to report scams. For tips on avoiding scams: www.bbb.org/scamtips. To learn more about these scams, please read the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report which was published for the first time earlier this year BBB.org/bbbscamtrackerriskreport.
Michelle Tabler, Alaska Marketplace Manager| 907-644- 5208 | email@example.com
Veronica Craker, Content & Communications Director| 253-722-8732| firstname.lastname@example.org