Live 5 Scambusters: BBB says sweepstakes scams are using the COVID-19 pandemic, targeting seniors more

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - If you’ve won the lottery or sweepstakes you don’t have to pay anything to get your money, but some people are still sending thousands of dollars to scammers.

The Better Business Bureau says seniors are targeted more than any other group and account for most of the money lost in lottery or sweepstakes scams.

Victims over the age of 65 accounted for nearly half (1,980) of the 4,417 sweepstakes and lottery scams reported to Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker since 2018. The same group also accounted for more than 80-percent of the $3.1 million in losses to this type of fraud.

The BBB says scammers are also using the pandemic to convince victims to pay more. They may claim COVID-19 safety precautions will delay the prize delivery. The scammer may offer you the option to pay a fee to expedite the delivery. This is another red flag for scams.

The BBB has some tips to avoid these scams.

  • If you’re told you won something you don’t remember playing or signing up for - that’s a red flag.
  • A real lottery or sweepstakes won’t ask you to pay anything - for taxes, processing or delivery.
  • Call the company directly. Publishers Clearing House does not call winners beforehand to tell them they’ve won.
  • If something seems fishy - do a quick internet search of the company and the phone number of the call.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact other family members or your bank if you have questions.

If you have encountered these scams or become a victim you can report it to the Better Business Bureau at, the Federal Trade Commission at, and the FBI at

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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