Remember to be Cautious of Scams
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind residents to be cautious about phone calls saying that they have won money in sweepstakes drawings.
Recently our office was contacted by a resident who received a call from someone stating that the resident had won $1,500,000.00. The citizen provided the phone number that the scammer was calling from, and we called the scammer ourselves.
We gave the scammer a fictitious name and the scammer said he remembered trying to let us know that we had won $1,500,000.00 in the Global Gold Rush International Sweepstakes.
In addition to the $1,500,000.00, they were also going to present the “winner” with $10,000.00 in cash and they found a sponsor company to pay all the income tax.
According to the scammer, a woman named Diane Patterson, would be traveling from California the following day to present the winning check. Patterson would also have an IRS form to ensure that we didn’t have to pay any taxes on the prize money.
The scammer advised us that we needed to keep this news to ourselves and that the award presentation would be “private”.
Further, the scammer told us that in order to process the prize claim, we needed to immediately to go to Wal-Mart and purchase two $500.00 green dot MoneyPaks. The scammer said to call him back as soon as we had the MoneyPaks so he could start making travel arrangements for those coming from California to present the winnings.
The scammer went on to say we should not give anyone information off of the cards themselves, because “that would be a scam.” However, there would be numbers of the sales receipts that we would need to provide him so he could verify the cards were activated.
Here is where the scam takes place. Once the scammer has these numbers, they can electronically transfer your $1000.00 from your cards to their own debit cards.
Fortunately, the citizen originally targeted by this scam, recognized it as a fraud and contacted our office rather than becoming a crime victim.
As always, if you win a legitimate prize you shouldn’t have to provide personal information, account information, or need to go purchase gift cards /MoneyPaks before you receive your winnings. Furthermore, you should always be suspicious of these types of calls. The scammers are professionals. They will use names of company’s you probably recognize, but that doesn’t make them legit, it simply makes them sophisticated criminals.
The man we talked to on the phone said his name was Michael Smith, who works at the Claims Department for U.S. Bank on Calhoun Blvd in San Diego, California. We were not able to verify that there even is a U.S. Bank on Calhoun Blvd. in San Diego. (He told the original target he worked for a different bank) The phone number used by the scammer shows it is out of Imperial County, California, which borders Mexico, but a quick Google search shows that this number is regularly reported as being used in phone scams, and is most likely used by scammers outside of the United States.