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BBB has new warning about evolving online scams and says former Omaha teacher was a target

BBB has new warning about evolving online scams and say retired Omaha teacher was a target

"I had my dreams shattered," said John, a retired school teacher from Omaha who the Better Business Bureau says got bilked thousands of dollars by one detailed and sophisticated lottery scam.

It's the very type of trickery the BBB says has evolved over time.

A new study shows scammers are targeting older folks on social media more often.

"On your friends, you need to have a little serious talk in person rather than on messenger," said John.

It's something he wishes he knew sooner.

At the start, he thought he was speaking with a trusted friend, but really it was someone after his money.

"We know that social media, and smart phones and text messaging are the new frontier for sweepstakes and lottery fraud," said Devorah Lanner of AARP.

To get the money, John says he first had to pay $900.

And then there were the delivery fees.

"It ended up being $4,600," said John.

But it didn't stop there.

All totaled up, he says the bad guys eventually got $9,000.

He had special plans for the money.

"Go to Africa and share the love of our Lord," said John.

Although it's certainly a set back, he says he's staying positive and hopes others will learn from his situation.

"Remember it's only paper," said John. "You can't take it with you."

Press Release
BBB full study on online scams

John is a retired teacher from Omaha, Neb., who had gone to Tanzania with a church group. He found it so rewarding that he then went back on his own for a month, helping with a K-7 school and with water testing in a village at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. He was very impressed with the local people, and his experience in helping people made a profound impression on him.
When John got home, he was contacted by a friend on Facebook Messenger, who praised his good deeds and asked if he had collected his prize money yet. The friend encouraged him to do so, saying the friend received $100,000 and noticed John’s name on the list as well. His friend sent the information that had the friends name and John’s on the list for winning a random drawing at Facebook. John later learned this this was not his friend, but instead a scammer who had copied his friend’s Facebook profile.
John found that he needed to contact “Wendy Li Force” through Facebook Messenger to collect his winnings.
“Wendy” contacted him, writing: “Congratulations!!! Your profile was selected among our 50 lucky winners. You are entitled to the sum of $100,000 instantly and it is ready to be claimed now.” After John gave her his contact information, “Wendy” texted him that “Fed X will be on their way to your doorstep. And your money will be delivered to you in the next 24 hours.” She cautioned him that “You are required to keep your money secret until you get it to avoid being robbed on our way to your doorstep.”
She asked that he send $900 to “Fed X.” He did. Over the next several days, John sent more money to Wendy to cover other fees, such as the cost of the “escort officers” who were delivering the check. Wendy also sent him an “escort certificate,” supposedly from Homeland Security. After that, Wendy claimed that while driving to John’s house, they were stopped by a tax agency, which required another payment.
John lost $9,000. He did not send more money, and of course he never got a prize. He filed a report with BBB and has not heard from the crooks again. John felt bad because he realized how much good the money would have done for orphans in Tanzania. But he says you must simply turn the page and start a new chapter.

Source: https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/17786-sweepstakes-lottery-and-prize-scams-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-how-winners-lose-millions-through-an-evolving-fraud

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