The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is seeing more lottery scams, where victims are told they won a large cash prize without entering any contests, only to lose tens of thousands of dollars after responding to the notices.
The scammers are sending notices through phone calls, emails, faxes and mailed letters telling people they won a “jackpot,” according to a release from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Some go as far to include a false seal or certificate, a sample of which can be seen in the photo area.
The scam takes effect when a person responds, and he or she is asked to send money through Western Union or a cashier’s check to a foreign address to pay for added taxes and handling charges, as examples, according to the release. Sometimes, the scammers claim tax information was miscalculated and they need more money sent.
An 80-year-old person from the south suburbs lost $90,000 to this type of scam. A 74-year-old also from the south suburbs lost $84,000 to a similar scam, according to the release. Both happened in the last six months.
The lottery scam has been seen elsewhere in the country, and the sheriff’s office receives “numerous” call about it, according to the release.
Sheriff Dart offered the following avoidance tips:
- Lotteries cannot be won without entering
- Be suspicious if contacted by a lottery agency in another country
- Do not give up credit card numbers, bank account numbers, social security numbers or any other personal information
- If contacted, inform local police immediately
Anyone who has been contacted by a suspected scammer should call local police or the Cook County Sheriff’s Police at 708-865-4869.