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  • Last modified 193 days ago (March 7, 2019)

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Steer clear of bogus sweepstakes callers

Law enforcement unable to recover pilfered money

Staff writer

Local police departments recently received reports of bogus Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstake crooks randomly calling residents with rewarding news of winning money.

The giveaway that it’s a scam is that the grand prize is ‘won’ without ever entering.

That hasn’t stopped swindlers from attempting to cheat receivers as the only one who benefits is the caller.

A favorite trick con artists try is to persuade receivers into purchasing prepaid debit cards, or wiring money through Western Union, Wells-Fargo, or other untraceable means, to cover the costs of delivering the prize.

Doing that is essentially the same as throwing money out the window, or flushing it down the toilet.

Much to the consumer’s chagrin, law enforcement is powerless if the receiver is duped into paying a fee to receive the prize, which in itself is illegal.

“There’s nothing we can really do if the consumer is fooled into paying by prepaid debit cards, once your money’s gone, it’s gone,” Hillsboro police chief Dan Kinning said. “Fortunately, we’ve got enough people aware anymore that they don’t fall for it.”

To complicate matters further for law enforcement, calls often come from dummy numbers not in service.

The PCH calls have become synonymous with the Jamaican area code 876, but they can come from any number with the aid of ID spoofing.

Another favorite area code to spoof is D.C’s 202, in an attempt to swerve receivers into believing calls are government-related.

Bogus grants, the infamous IRS scams, as well as the recent suspicious ‘Social Security’ activity often appear as 202, with culprits usually calling from India or Pakistan.

Consumers are not required to pay for prizes, unauthorized goods received, or grants, as the callers usually demand.

Be aware the callers are crooks and engaging in conversation with them is ill-advised for that reason.

Requests such as being removed from calling lists are unwise also as it’s rarely taken kindly to and can potentially turn hostile.

“These people are worse than your door-to-door salespersons ever were,” Kinning said. “They can get nasty when they know you’re not buying it so it’s best not to engage in conversation.”

As in all sweepstakes or lotteries, odds of winning are astronomical and ‘winners’ won’t be notified via cold call, emails, or fax, demanding a payment up front for prizes.

Calls regarding activity on individuals’ Social Security have become popular lately as well with fraudsters threatening suspensions.

In reality, Social Security numbers cannot be suspended, however, that doesn’t stop callers from attempting to create hysteria threatening receivers.

Last modified March 7, 2019

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