Who is hurt the most by sweepstakes scams and how to avoid it


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The BBB says that people lose more than 50 billion each year to scams.

As it turns out, young people are actually much more likely to become victims of scams than their grandparents, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

One of so many to almost get tricked is Tony Obgregon.

“It looked like an official letter,” Obgregon recalled, he thought for a split second he was a millionaire.

But reading it a second time, he realized the sweepstakes was not going to pay out.

“It said that if I sent in like $12 and 99 cents, that I would be able to get my 3 million…so I said oh boy, this sounds like a scam to me!” remembered Obgregon. “Must be a senior special they’re handing out!”

While you make think senior citizens are most likely to fall for a scam, new research shows otherwise.

The BBB looked at 30,000 cases and discovered that only 11% of seniors lost money, while 34% of 18-24 year-olds handed over cash.

It is called ‘optimism bias,’ according to the BBB. That is when younger people are confident they can spot a con and don’t keep their guard up.

Emma Fletcher from the BBB explained, “we’re all at risk and there stereotypes that are widely held that it’s older people or people that are perhaps gullible or are less educated, those are really just stereotypes and not an accurate reflection of the reality that we see.”

Here are some tell-tale signs to help you spot a sweepstakes scam:

  • You have to pay a fee or buy something to enter
  • You have to deposit a check that has been sent to you
  • You’re told the prize-holders are from the government or another official sounding organization
  • Your prize notice was mailed by ‘bulk rate’
  • You have to attend a sales meeting to win
  • You get a call out of the blue, even though you’re on the Do Not Call Registry

According to the Federal Trade Commission, legitimate sweepstakes are free and by chance, and prize promoters have to tell you certain things, like your odds of winning.

For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

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