SCSO Public Information Office Leslie Earhart says the key thing to remember is that if you've won a sweepstakes you shouldn't have to pay to collect your winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes don't require the winner pay insurance, taxes or handling charges to collect the prize.
Earhart says scammers pressure people to wire money through companies like Western Union because wiring money is the same as sending cash. Also avoid sending a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier, as con artists use these services so they can get to your money before you realize you’ve been scammed.
The Sheriff's Office recommends asking for the phone number and address of anyone saying you've won something. If they're legitimate they'll provide their contact information without hesitation, allowing you to check with your local law enforcement agency on their validity.
Along with sweepstakes scams police continue to receive reports from older residents, saying someone calls to inform them their grandchild is jailed and needs money to post bond.
Police say the scammers hope to get their victims so upset and worried that they don’t think clearly and hastily wire money. Earhart says that in some of these scenarios the caller will pretend to be the arresting officer, or lawyer of the victim’s relative.
Police say some county residents are also being fleeced in overpayment scams. The victim advertises something they want to sell and a potential buyer offers to purchase it. The alleged buyer then sends a check for more than the asking price, directing the victim to send them back the difference. When the alleged buyer's original check bounces the seller learns they've been scammed out of money.
Anyone suspecting they're the target of a scam should check with their local law enforcement agency.