MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA — Chief Todd Fitzgerald and the Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Department wish to alert the community to a recent uptick in scams targeting residents.
During the weekend police received two reports from residents who said they may have fallen victim to a scam involving lottery winnings. Potential victims are told they have won a lottery or sweepstakes and must pay an amount up front – either a service charge or taxes and fees — to receive the full larger prize and possibly a bonus.
One resident reported losing about $15,000, while another reported losing about $50,000. The investigation into these incidents is ongoing.
“If you are randomly contacted about winning a lottery, the odds are high that it is a scam to extort money,” Chief Fitzgerald said. “Scam operations use a variety of schemes to target people, especially seniors on limited incomes. We ask residents who receive offers from unknown individuals to please call the Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Department so that we can assist them.”
Lottery scams, especially emanating from other countries, are currently among of the most prevalent consumer frauds, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reminds the public that legitimate lotteries never require payment to receive a prize. Taxes and fees are taken out before the prize is paid.
How to spot a scam
According to the FTC, the warning signs of scams include:
- The offer is unsolicited and appears “too good to be true.”
- Payments for goods or services are required in advance.
- Personal information is requested.
- Representatives use high-pressure sales techniques, claiming that immediate action is required.
How to protect yourself
The FTC offers the following tips:
- Don’t believe everything you are told. If something sounds “too good to be true,” it probably is.
- Avoid being taken by high-pressure tactics. Take the time to research offers before deciding whether to participate.
- Don’t do business with anyone who solicits money in advance of awarding a prize.
- Inspect all representatives’ credentials carefully.
- Don’t deposit checks sent by companies that claim the check is being sent to pay fees or taxes on lottery winnings.
Residents should NEVER give out personal information, Social Security numbers, money, or credit card numbers to people they don’t know.
If a victim gives the scammer a pre-paid debit card number, sends a money order or makes a wire transfer, the money is very likely gone. There is usually no way to recover those funds.
- Learn about 5 common scams and how to avoid them.
- Here are 10 most common phone scams to look out for.
If you are ever unsure about a potential scam, contact the Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Department at 978-526-1212.