In Clermont County, reports surface every day of senior residents who have fallen prey to unscrupulous con artists and intimidating criminals “ripping off” hundreds of thousands of the dollars seniors have worked all their lives to save. According to the National Council on Aging, these crimes are far more prevalent for older adults because seniors are thought to have that savings so that they are able to live comfortably in their retirement years.
The sweepstakes/lottery scam is definitely one of the most common, and there have been cases in our county where intelligent, responsible people are scammed out of anywhere between $20,000 and $350,000. Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected.
During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.
The sweepstakes/lottery scam capitalizes on the notion that people are greedy and if someone can front $250,000 to “collect” $2 million, that’s a great deal! Be assured that it is not. Moreover, it is a forever loss as your funds will be virtually impossible to recover.
Sadly, this is happening every day in our community and the victims end up so ashamed and humiliated, and as many of these cases about which we are made aware, there are probably twice as many that go unreported. No one wants to think that he/she was taken. And, since financial scams often go unreported, criminals tend to consider it a “low risk” crime.
If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud or an attempt has been made against you, please call your local law enforcement and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at: www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/about-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam. Or call, 1-800-282-0515