NORTHERN INDIANA – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Northern Indiana has issued a warning to consumers about a reported text message scam.
The scammer poses as a lottery winner named Manuel Franco. He claims to have won a $768 million Powerball Jackpot and is donating to 200 random individuals. These text messages request that the victim reach out to the winner’s agent and provide an alternate phone number to contact.
The text messages may come from an out-of-state area code. The message details change often, such as the dollar amount being given or the name of the agent in charge of dispersing the funds. In many cases, the scammer will request banking information or a fee to send the funds. If personal information is given, it may lead to lost funds or hacked accounts, and any fees paid will most likely never be recovered.
Use BBB’s tips to avoid this scam:
- Don’t pay upfront fees to claim a prize. No legitimate sweepstakes company will ever ask to pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve the chances of winning — that includes paying “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get a prize.
- Checks can bounce after the bank allows the account holder to withdraw cash from the deposit. Check processing is a confusing business. Even if a bank representative tells you a check has “cleared,” you can’t be sure it won’t be detected as a fake weeks later. One thing you can be sure of is that you will be on the hook for any funds drawn against the amount.
- Be suspicious of irregular communication. Real sweepstakes will not notify you via text or bulk mail. They will not send a check in the mail without first confirming with you. And you won’t be notified that you are a winner and have to respond or act within 24 hours to collect your prize.
- You’ve got to play to win. A notification that you have won a prize in a contest you do not remember entering should be a red flag. Keep track of all sweepstakes entries so it’s easy to check if a legitimate contest-related company is confirming winnings. When entering, read the fine print and rules for how prizes are claimed.
If you spot a scam, whether you’ve lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.