Huge sweepstakes scams prey upon the elderly

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A South St. Louis man is notified of a huge sweepstakes win. But he quickly realizes that collecting the prize money is impossible.  These sweepstakes scams never seem to stop.  Because the crooks believe people just can't resist the chance to collect a huge payout.

Jerry Davis could have been a victim, but he knew something was not right about the winning.  He says he found out that he won two different sweepstakes via telephone.  Multiple calls actually came before the checks arrived according to Davis.  'The guy said I won $7,950.  And the next time it would be a different winning amount from a different person.'

Davis says that was the mega millions Las Vegas.  A few days later the caller wanted to know if he'd received his prize money in the mail.   Jerry recorded this message left by the very persistent caller.  'Jerry, David Leach here, did you get my check?  Jerry, its David Leach, did anything come in the mail?'

It had not arrived when this message was recorded but Jerry says it came a few days later.  'Well when I opened it, I seen that it was scotch taped.  So somebody had to look at something.   And it doesn't have one thing about a lottery, or anything on it.'

The next conversation was about depositing the check and sending four hundred dollars to the caller.   But Jerry tells me he was cautious.  'I took it to my bank and they said you don`t want to cash it.'

Then another notice arrived from North Hampton London.   This time it was the Australian Lottery and the winning prize was over three million dollars. Again Jerry needed to send the lottery a portion of the winnings something he was not willing to do.   'A lot of people lose a lot of money.  I don`t have a lot of money to leave to nobody.   I work too hard for my money to be sending it to people, when I don`t get nothing in return.'

Sweepstakes scams appear frequently.   Tell people you know, seniors in particular that is very unlikely the prize is for a legitimate contest. Be alert and never bow to the pressure to send money.   Unfortunately the no call lists don't really protect you from these calls because the phones are usually those prepaid phones that get used for just a short period of time then discarded.  But you should still report the attempted scam to the Federal Trade Commission.   A toll-free number is 877 438-4338 or the link to the FTC is:

Call us if you have a consumer issue.  The call for action hotline is open Monday through Thursday between 11am and 1pm   the toll-free number is 800 782-2222.