Scammers are making hay from lotto fever that arose from the recent $1.5B Powerball drawing.
Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenel warned Friday that his office has received reports of telephone calls to some county residents claiming a big money lottery win once they have paid the insurance or taxes on the prize.
“They're using that genuine [ Powerball] event as the background for their calls," the sheriff said.
The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker includes a couple of instances of Midlanders reporting what they said were scam telephone calls.
A Columbia resident said a call like this was received January 12, 2016.
“I received a phone call saying i won the lottery and all i had to do was send them the taxes which was $600 dollars,” the complaintant wrote in the tracker.
A Redbank resident reported a call on January 7, 2016.
“The guy pretended to be East Indian or Mexican,and told me that I was the second runner up for the publisher clearing house sweepstakes "are you familiar". He wanted to know if I was home or would be home to receive the prize of money and a car,” the complaint read.
Neither the Red Bank nor Columbia writer reported losing any money.
An Aiken County resident reported losing $3,700 to a sweepstake scam call in November, 2015.
“Received a call [...] stating we won sweepstakes. I had to send money western union -3700.00 in order to receive the prize. The money sent western Union was for Lawyers, registration, storage fees and taxes.”
And in neighboring Georgia, an Appling resident wrote $7,325 was lost to a sweepstake scam call on January 6, 2016.
“I was contacted by telephone and advised that I won a major sweepstakes. All I had to do was pay the fees and insurance,” so several payments were sent, the writer said.
Sheriff Ravenel warned about the scams in a news release on Friday saying anyone who has received a suspicious call and have a question, can contact the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office at 803-534-3550 or the South Carolina Education Lottery at 1-803-734-4966.