Don’t Get Scammed! by Alina Lopez
We’ve all heard of the infamous lottery scam and other phone and internet scams, yet people fall for these on a regular basis. Although it’s a frequent occurrence, not all stories make the news, but occasionally an uprise in scams catches the attention of local news outlets. Recently there has been a peak in these types of frauds and there was a story featured in the news of an elderly woman who was scammed out of $19,000 as she became an unsuspecting victim of the lottery scam. Another scam is the perfume vendor selling perfumes in a parking lot of a shopping center. This one hit close to home as my own mother entertained the salesman for a short time, but luckily, I’ve educated her enough to watch out for unusual or too good to be true deals. My neighbor wasn’t as lucky and fell for the trick thus got conned out of $100 for fake perfumes.
The perfume scam works in the following way. A person approaches their potential victim and claims they had a trade show and were not able to sell all their merchandise and will be taking a flight back home but can’t take the leftover items with them on the plane. They go as far as opening one of the perfumes and having the victim smell it. They offer some kind of deal like five bottles for $100. Most of the time, the victim doesn’t have the cash at hand, so it’s suggested they go to an ATM together to withdraw the amount. In some cases, like what happened to my neighbor, if the victim refuses to go to an ATM, the perpetrator will then make a trade or bargaining deal such as having the person buy them items from a grocery store or convenient store equal to the amount of the merchandise being offered. When that victim gets home and opens those perfume bottles, they come to find out it’s nothing but colored water!
Another popular scheme that has been around for years is the famous lottery scam. It’s pretty much the same situation in which the con-artist approaches their victim (usually elderly) and tells some sob story that they have a winning lottery ticket but due to their immigration status are unable to claim their prize. The swindler will ask, as a favor, if their victim could cash the ticket out, but will ask for a collateral or deposit prior to giving the winning ticket. Again, most of the time their target won’t have the cash at hand and it’s suggested they go to an ATM to withdraw the money or even go to the victim’s home to retrieve the money or exchange jewelry for the ticket. The fraudster then takes the “deposit”, hands the ticket over, and disappears, leaving a helpless victim with a fraudulent lottery ticket and a loss of cash or valuables.
There are some tips to follow and keep in mind to avoid becoming a victim to one of these scams.
- Do not buy perfumes or other merchandise from a random person off the streets.
- Definitely do not go to an ATM with a stranger or much less allow them to go to your home.
- Never redeem a lottery ticket for a stranger.
- Never pay money to collect a prize.
- You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to claim a winning lottery ticket.
If you suspect you’ve become a victim to one of these kinds of scams, contact your local police department to make a complaint, even as embarrassing as it may be. Many victims choose not to make a report because they feel ashamed and foolish that they fell victim to a scammer. It’s important that you report these incidents.
To contact our office, call 305-470-1670 or visit our website www.citizenscrimewatch.org.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and stay safe!
Written by: Alina Lopez