Jamaican scammers are calling unsuspecting consumers across the country, but this time they are pretending to be representatives of BBB.
According to Emily Patterson of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, here’s how the scam works: It begins with a call from a phone number with an 876 area code. The person on the other line may have an accent but claims to work for BBB.
The caller tells you that you won a sweepstakes with a prize of $2 million and a Mercedes Benz. The catch is that you can’t collect your winnings until you pay them a fee. Remember, anytime you have to pay money, you have not won anything, except a major headache if you fall for it.
Look for this scam to evolve as word gets out. Scammers are currently claiming to represent the Acadiana BBB in Louisiana, but Patterson warns that this may change to another location or even another credibility-boosting organization. The scam itself also may change. Instead of asking people to collect lottery winnings, scammers may ask for you to deposit a check and wire them part of the money, or inform you that you’re receiving a (fake) government grant.
So, what do you do if you think you’ve spotted a scam?
Patterson says hang up and don’t call the scammer back. We all like to have the last word, but returning the phone call may just give the con-artist information he or she can use.
Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Find out how to call with a phone fraud report at FTC.gov. Contact your local BBB office.
Join the National Do Not Call Registry. This won’t stop scams entirely, but it can help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive.
For more information or to report scams: Visit the BBB website at www.bbb.org.
Holly Doering, BBB editor