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NCSO warns against sending money to receive sweepstakes prize

COVINGTON — If you haven’t entered a contest, you’re not likely to be a winner. Likewise, if you need to pay money to receive money, it’s quite possibly you’re the victim of a scam.

“There are no sweepstakes or lottery organizations that we have contacted that require up-front money to get your reward and/or winnings,” said Newton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeff Alexander.

A Newton County man has found himself a victim to one such ploy.

Alexander said the 75-year-old victim was contacted in February by telephone and told he was the winner of a sweepstakes drawing.

“He was told he won $2.5 million and all he needed to do was send in $400,” the investigator said.

“Not long after that, he got a return call and was told he needed to send another $2,500. The victim said he could only get $1,000, and the woman said that would be enough.”

So the man went to the store and purchased $1,000 worth of Green Dot Cards and sent them to the address provided by the woman.

The victim received another phone call advising that he he needed to send $1,500 more and FedEx would deliver his money.

Soon after sending that money, the woman called and said that he actually could receive $5.2 million if he would provide an additional $1,000 for the FedEx driver when his winnings were delivered on March 7.

On March 8, the woman once again called the victim and said he could go ahead and send her the $1,000 directly. Realizing he was being victimized, the man contact the Sheriff’s Office.

Alexander said that these sorts of scams are common, but this is one of the highest amounts of money he’s heard a victim has sent in.

He said these sorts of con artists tend to prey on the elderly and those who are retired or on fixed incomes.

“Legitimate sweepstakes organizations, like Publisher’s Clearinghouse, and the lottery do not ask for money in order to send any winnings,” he said. “If anyone is contacted about being the winner of a contest or sweepstakes that you did not enter, do not engage with the person on the other end of the phone and just hang up.”