The Better Business Bureau is warning about a phone sweepstakes scam that claims people have won money through the American Family Network.
A man from Wausa, Neb., reported receiving a call saying he had won $450,000 through the network. The caller told him he would have to pay $4,500 to claim the prize “due to the government's 'Patriot Act' that requires recipients of large amounts of money to pay 1 percent.” When the consumer said he didn't have the money, another person called to tell him that because of a $3,000 loan, he would have to send only a cashier's check for $1,500.
The consumer then received several calls from an “attorney” from Las Vegas and his “secretary” trying to persuade him to pay the $1,500. The man said he had contacted the Better Business Bureau and was informed that he should not have to pay anything to collect a sweepstakes prize.
Shortly after, the man received a call from a Linda Brown, supposedly with the BBB, who spoke with a Jamaican accent and appeared to have called from the BBB's main phone number. Brown stated that she was located at the address of the BBB in Omaha and continued to try to get him to agree to send the $1,500. In a separate call placed by the man, the BBB confirmed that there was no Linda Brown employed at the office in Omaha.
“The Better Business Bureau has absolutely no affiliation with this fraudulent operation. I advise consumers to be extremely leery of letters, faxes, emails or phone calls telling them they've won prizes, lotteries or sweepstakes. Remember, phone numbers can deceive,” said Jim Hegarty, president of the BBB serving Nebraska, Southwest Iowa, South Dakota and the Kansas Plains.
Lottery tickets must be purchased, and sweepstakes usually involve application paperwork that you have completed. Legitimate sweepstakes don't require anything to be paid to win.