Would you pay to win a prize? Sweepstakes scams cost victims more during pandemic

ARLINGTON, Va., June 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Sweepstakes and lottery scams resulted in higher financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic…

ARLINGTON, Va., June 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Sweepstakes and lottery scams resulted in higher financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the previous three years, particularly for older people, according to new research from Better Business Bureau® (BBB). BBB warns consumers never to pay money to claim a prize. If anyone asks for money before delivering a prize, it is likely a scam.

Sweepstakes and lottery scams resulted in higher financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the previous three years, particularly for older people, according to new research from Better Business Bureau.

The research is an update of BBB’s 2018 in-depth investigative study, Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How «Winners» Lose Millions Through an Evolving Fraud. Since the study’s publication, there has been a 16% decrease in complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). However, financial losses reported to all three agencies rose dramatically in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, with FTC logging an increase of more than 35% in reported dollar losses. The updated research highlights how these scams work and the importance of educating consumers, particularly those who may be susceptible to a specific scam.

According to Steve Baker, BBB International Investigations Specialist, «This updated research highlights how these scams work and the importance of educating older adults and other people who may be susceptible to these scams. Because these scammers are so good at what they do, anyone could be a victim.» 

Older adults are the primary target for sweepstakes scams

People over the age of 55 continue to be the primary target of sweepstakes, lottery, and prize scams, representing 72% of fraud reports for this type of scam received by BBB Scam Tracker during the last three years. Of the older consumers who were targeted, 91% reported that they lost money. Adults over 55 lost an average of $978 while those 18-54 lost an average of $279, according to Scam Tracker reports. The confinement and isolation many older people experienced during COVID-19 may have helped fuel the increase in losses. Other factors that may contribute to some older people’s particular vulnerability include mental decline and relative financial stability, as reported in BBB’s 2018 study.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

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SOURCE BBB