Telling people that they’ve won a prize but must pay taxes or fees before they can collect it is a common and unfortunately effective scam. Some recent winners of the North Carolina Education Lottery have been targeted by a new twist on this ever-popular scam. Recent lottery winners have gotten calls informing them that in addition to the prize they already knew about, they’ve won a Mercedes-Benz. But before taking possession of their new car, they need to pay $499 in taxes. They’re told to purchase a prepaid debit card to cover the tax, then call back and provide the numbers from the back of the card. Those contacted by the scammers had all won between $1,000 and $1,500 in the lottery and their names and hometowns, which are considered public record, had been posted on the Education Lottery’s website. The fraudulent calls appear to originate in Jamaica. Learn more about this scam from the Education Lottery. Remember, it’s against the law to require a prepayment for any cash prize or sweepstakes. If you are ever in doubt about a situation like this, just ask yourself this question: If I’m a winner, why are they asking ME to pay?
If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.