CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning Eastern Panhandle residents to be cautious if they receive unsolicited phone calls saying the consumer has won a lottery, sweepstakes or new car.
Morrisey's office has received multiple complaints from Eastern Panhandle consumers regarding a lottery giveaway scam in which residents are told they have won a cash prize and a new car. The caller then tells the consumer that he or she must make a small payment to cover taxes and other fees in order to receive the prizes.
Scammers reportedly have asked that the payments be in the form of a money order, prepaid debit card, bank transfer, check, and/or a wire transfer.
Attorney General Morrisey warned consumers against sending money in any format to unsolicited callers, even those who are offering prizes.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time scammers have tricked consumers to send money payments in order to receive a prize or winnings,” Morrisey said in a statement. “Our Office understands that consumers may be thrilled with the thought of winning a great prize, but true prizes don’t come with strings, or price tags, attached.
"Consumers should take a moment to evaluate if they think the sweepstakes is legitimate and if they recall entering it.”
In recent weeks, some Eastern Panhandle residents have sent between $4,000 and $30,000 to scammers who claim to have a cash prize and vehicle ready for the consumer. Both times the consumers sent money through a multitude of different mediums and never received their prizes.
In some instances, the consumer sent money to receive their prize and then was informed they had to send more.
“Scammers will stop at nothing to steal money from the hard-working residents of the Eastern Panhandle,” Morrisey said. “It is important to remain alert when someone asks for your personal and financial information over the phone. Don’t be afraid to hang up, and do some research on the caller first.”
Those who believe they are the victim of a lottery type scam have been asked to call the Attorney General’s Eastern Panhandle Office at 304-267-0239 or the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.