Sacto 9-1-1
September 11, 2012
DA's office warns of scam promising prize money for upfront fee

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully is advising residents to beware of a scam that promises prize money for a significant upfront fee.

Leyne Milstein, the city of Sacramento's finance director, said she alerted the DA's office, along with the FBI and other local law enforcement agencies this week after her father nearly became a scam victim.

Milstein said her father received a call informing him that he had won a lottery. All he needed to do to claim the prize was purchase two $500 Green Dot Moneypak cards and meet lottery representatives at a bank. Once he provided the representatives with the cards, they would deposit a multimillion-dollar check in his account.

Milstein said her father thought the call might have been in response to a lottery he entered a few years ago. The caller had her father's phone number and address, which seemed to give the offer some credibility, although Milstein noted that her father's phone number and address are listed in the phone book.

The District Attorney's office said the scammer typically asks whether the person has ever responded to an email or phone call about winning a grand prize drawing, or entered other contests. If the person says he or she has, the scammer claims to be the person who is authorized to award the prize money. The caller states that all the person needs to do to finalize the process is to pay a processing fee of hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The person is then directed to purchase a Green Dot Moneypak card and set up a meeting so the scammer can collect the card. The scammer promises to deliver the prize money in a few days, but that never occurs.

Milstein said her father talked to family members about the call. Convinced it was a scam, they persuaded him not to respond to the prize offer.

"A lot of times seniors are isolated, so they go through this experience alone," Milstein said.

The District Attorney's Office advises the public to be aware of this and similar scams that ask for money upfront. For information and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of scams, see the District Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit web page, http://www.sacda.org/divisions/units/cepd/tips.php.

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