Sweepstakes scams change tactics to entice more victims, postal service warns

For years, fake sweepstakes letters and foreign lottery scams have been targeting the mailboxes of residents around the country, including here in Hawaii.

Con artists are using every trick in the book to try and get even a few dollars from potential victims.

They send fake checks, often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and ask people to deposit them into their bank account. In return, they’re asked to send back several thousand dollars to cover taxes and processing fees

Lately, the U.S. Postal Service says it’s been seeing cases here in Hawaii where the scammers are asking for as little as $50.

“So if you receive something and it’s only $50, and you say to yourself it’s only $50, that’s where we want people to be alert,” said Jeff Fitch, U.S. Postal Inspector. “That could be somebody just trying to get you to start participating.”

Scammers are hoping to unlock the potential for repeat victims and more lost money.

“This is one of those things where the bad guys take their time to make things look good and they’ll try to make everything look professional and you just have to use your due diligence,” said Fitch.

If you’re still convinced that you’re the winner of a lottery in a foreign country, the U.S. Postal Service says there is no legal foreign lotteries.

If you think you’ve been victimized via mail, the Postal Service wants to hear from you. Often times, that’s how they’re alerted to these types of scams

“If we can identify where some of these things are coming in, our fraud teams work to intercept these things as they are coming in,” said Fitch.

Click here to report a possible scam to the U.S. Postal Inspector.

If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or send an email to actionline@khon2.com.

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