Don received a notice in the mail congratulating him for winning $9,851.80 from a company called Financial Express..
He was told he had won big in the North America Consumer Promotion Draw. It's supposedly a contest for shoppers of Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Sears, and Safeway. Since Don shops at Wal-Mart all the time, he assumed the sweepstakes was legit.
The letter told him to call Tracy Parker at (209)589-0275 and he did. Tracy told him to cash the enclosed check for $985.18 and wire $976 via Western Union to her in Ontario, Canada and his winnings would be sent to him.
Don did as instructed and waited. When he received nothing ... he called Tracy back. She transferred Don to a supervisor who claimed to be busy and would call back. No one ever called and now that 209-number is disconnected.
Don is out close to $1,000 and upset he fell for the scam.
He now knows what red flags to look for... like being told to wire money to Canada. Whenenever you wire money outside the U.S. it's gone. Police in Colorado can't investigate... it's outside their jurisdiction.
Another warning sign... being told to pay taxes before you can receive your prize. The I.R.S. will want a cut of a big prize, but you never have to pay upfront.
To commit these kind of of crimes, crooks use disposable cell phones so they can't be traced. This one was probably picked up in California... so it would appear that Tracy is in the U.S. when she's really in Canada.
I told Don... and I'll tell you... if you're notified that you've won a prize... call me first! I really don't mind and am more than happy to check out such claims. I would rather you take five minutes to verify a contest than to lose your hard-earned cash.
I also warned Don that he's now on a "sucker's list." Those who fall for one scheme find their name and address has been passed on to others.
But Don's wiser now. He knows better. Take care Don and take comfort in knowing many others will learn from your experience.
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