An elderly woman from Round Lake Park fell victim to a sweepstakes scam that left her with nothing in her bank account this August. It all started about a year ago when she received a seemingly non-threatening mailing offering her a chance at winning some big money in a sweepstakes contest. Why not try? What would it cost her? Just some time - which she had plenty of - filling out the entry form. Wrong! How about nearly $100,000! And this same scam could happen to you or someone you love.
The woman filled out the form last summer, mailed it, and did not hear anything until one day this past January. She didn't win the first prize worth over a million dollars, but the scammer told her that she had won second place, winning $550,000. It's more believable this way. And sure enough, she believed it. The scammer told her not to tell anyone because "her safety was a concern." Another mailing came shortly afterwards recommending a confidentiality agreement to protect her. All she would have to do is send a little money. These scammers do not care about anyone's safety but rather how much money they can steal from them.
Once the woman sent money, she was told to keep sending money for one reason or another. Not wanting to forfeit her initial investments and/or for fear of what her family might say, she continued until it was all gone! At the end, the scammer sent her a check and told her to keep some of it and send the rest back to them. But it was a bogus check and now she was out the money and had to pay additional bank fees. The chances of her getting any of her money back is close to zero, according to police. What can someone do to prevent this from happening? If you do fill out any sweepstakes forms, remember these two rules: #1 - Do not send any personal information other than your name, address, or phone number and #2 - NEVER send them any money! The best way to avoid all sweepstakes scams is by depositing all offers in the trash!