Better Business Bureau warns of ever-evolving scams targeting seniors

Darlene Hodgson lost hundreds of dollars in a scam. (KATU Photo)

A new report by the Better Business Bureau says sweepstakes, lottery, and prize schemes are being directed at seniors with ever-evolving methods. The potential scams are arriving in the form of direct mail, cold calling, social media, text messages, and smartphone pop-ups.

The BBB says these scams bilked $117 million out of half a million Americans and Canadians in 2017 alone.

Darlene Hodgson, who's currently homeless and living in Salem, says she was targeted last year with a call.

"Congratulations, you have won the second prize from Publisher's Clearing House," said Hodgson, recounting the call she received last year.

The caller told Hodgson to send some money to verify her bank account information. The BBB says that is a big red flag.

"Just know that they're never going to ask you for money," said BBB spokesman Stephen Mayer. "That's one of the huge red flags that will help you identify these sorts of scams."

Hodgson says she wised up once they asked for more money.

"I got stung once," said Hodgson. "I'm not being stupid and stung twice."

The BBB report says Jamaica has become the epicenter of these growing overseas fraud attempts.

"It's become such big business out there that rival gangs apparently are fighting over these calls and the money that can come from them," said Mayer.

To protect yourself, visit the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker site to learn about scams that have been reported in your area.

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