Berkeley Man Victim of Sweepstakes Scam

Written by

Do you think you could lose $38,000 in a phone scam?

Sometimes certain stories are just too good to be true, a cliché now realized by an 80 year old Berkeley man who was a recent victim of phone sweepstakes fraud.

Would you send a complete stranger who contacted you $38,000 to cover taxes for a sweepstakes contest you were just told you won? It's somewhat of a sad situation for this Berkeley man. Maybe his age affected his judgment or his naiveté got the best of him. Or possibly his lack of understanding of phone scams and the ability to discover a criminal's identity through reverse phone checks. Either way, the story is one to be heeded and applied and it should educate everyone as to the existence of these scams. Awareness is the first step and it will cause you to think first before taking such a serious action and sending money to an unknown individual.

The scam originated in Canada and took thousands of dollars from an unsuspecting senior. A fake telemarketing company contacted the man to tell him he had won 7th prize in a sweepstakes. The caller told the man he could not receive the prize money until a check was sent to cover the taxes. Not suspecting any criminal activity, the man immediately sent the fake company a check for $38,000.

If you are not gasping for air at this point, the story continues to escalate...

A few months later after the incident, the criminal contacted the Berkeley man once again requesting another $15,000. The man sent another check for $15,000 even though he had not received any prize money at this point.

Thankfully, investigators intercepted this transaction before it was too late. The investigators were working for Project COLT (Center of Operations Linked to Telemarketing), a program which involves numerous agencies such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, HIS, and the Security and Investigation Services for Canada Post.

The victim received his $15,000 back which was personally delivered to his home by the Berkeley Police Department as reported by spokesperson Sgt. May Kusmiss.

After learning of the terrible crime committed against him, the Berkeley man says, "I probably will never see the first check for $38,000 I sent to this guy, but I'm very grateful to have the $15,000 back. There is much to the saying that, if something sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true."

Agents working for HSI, in statements made about the crime, told sources about the common nature of these telemarketing fraud phone calls. The criminals who call tell the victims they will win or receive a large sum of money and they will not release it until money is sent. They will say they are relatives or even that they work for the government to scam people out of money. The criminals are very persistent and will continue to try to receive as much money as possible from victims. HIS agents also warn people about the danger of these crimes and to avoid them by becoming more suspicious of any individuals calling and asking for money.

If you think that no one else could possibly fall for a scam like this, think again. More than $280 million has been stolen from victims of telemarketing scams as reported by Canada organizations. Gratefully, Project COLT is working to stop these crimes and since 1998, they have recovered nearly $27 million back to appreciative victims.

Maybe you would react the same as this victim... maybe you want to believe you just won a substantial cash award so much that you will go to any lengths to make it happen. Regardless, phone scams are extremely common and ready to pounce on anyone who will give them time and space. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. And as this Berkeley man learned the hard way... if it's too good to be true, most likely it's not.