Ever get mail or email claiming you are a winner? They usually turn out to be too good to be true. But the Better Business Bureau warns they could be harmful too. The BBB calls it an epidemic.
You get a letter or an email saying you've won some sort of payout, and for a small fee, you can get the big prize. It turns out it's all a scam.
Aldridge Bell, retired from the Navy, has lived in Savannah 40 years. And he loves getting mail. Even junk mail.
"I get three or four a day," he told us.
They say you are a guaranteed winner. And if they ask for money to get the prize, Bell actually sends it almost every time.
"I get happy, you know, and before I know, I send it to them," he said.
Twenty sweepstakes mailings later, Bell is $500 poorer. "I've never received anything," he said.
"This is a daily thing in our office," said Better Business Bureau CEO Ross Howard. He says the calls are flooding in about bogus sweepstakes and lottery winnings, "eight and ten calls a day."
There are also plenty of warning signs. Like if you never entered the contest in the first place. "If you never entered, how could you win?" asked Howard.
And if you are asked to send money, or send money out of the country, Howard says throw the mail away. "Don't let your emotions get the best of you so you actually send the money."
Bell is a little more careful with his mail now. "I feel scammed," he said. "I feel more or less dumb." He promised us he wouldn't fall for scams any more.
Plus, his wife found out. "She was a little upset," he told us.
But he's still waiting to get his money back. "They need to be caught. Get my money back and put them in jail."
The chances of authorities catching these people are as slim as Bell getting his money back. But, the Better Business Bureau says many scams originate from Canada. Canadian authorities are taking these scammers seriously, and have set up a fraud unit to go after them.