Phenix City veteran warns of possible lottery scam after becoming a victim

Phenix City veteran warns of possible lottery scam after becoming a victim

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Phenix City man says he lost $1,650 after giving the money away to claim his lottery prize win.

Now he wants to share his experience in order to prevent others from falling into the same trap.

The Phenix City man did not want to show his face and he did not want to be named in order to prevent him from any more problems. He says says that he thought the phone call saying that he won a luxury sports car was legit, until the company kept asking for money and the car never showed up at his doorsteps.

The local man says a few weeks ago on May 11, he received a call claiming to be from a lottery, telling him he was the winner of a new BMW sports car $2 million. The person on the other end of the phone insisted that he should send them $1,650 to cover fees in order to get his car.

"It was four money orders. Three of them for $500 and one for $150," said the victim.

After the money was sent, the man was in contact with the company again to arrange the delivery of the car by state troopers, but they needed more money.

"Of which would be $1,200 for me to pay. I told them no way. They told me then how about $6,000. I said no. Then they said $3,000 and I told them no, give me some tangible evidence that this is a legitimate organization," said the victim.

The car never came, and the retired Army veteran soon realized this company may not be what it seemed.

"You know, when you win something, you got to pay taxes on it. That's what they told me. They said these are the rules. They were really slick and professional in the way they presented this," said the victim.

The Financial Crime Unit at the Columbus Police Department say they deal with situations like these often. Investigators say it's important to always be on the lookout for these types of lottery or sweepstakes scams.

"Chances are if you haven't registered for something there's no way to win those such drawings," said Sgt. John Bailey.

They say it may be possible to track down lost funds, but that scenario is not always likely.

"The biggest problem we have in local government is that most of these cross state lines. Some of these are not even in the country. The Federal Trade Commission has set up a website that can be helpful. Also, they can send thousands of letters and phone calls and it doesn't cost them anything (scammers). If they do get one or two people to commit and send them $3,000 a day, then at the end of the day, they've made a profit," said Sgt. John Bailey.

The Phenix City man says he could have used the money he lost for better reasons.

"That money hurt and I feel bad for the family I was going to try to help with that money," the victim said. 

The man contacted the Better Business Bureau in Columbus in an effort to help track the possible scam with their new BBB Scam Tracker.

He also says he will file a report with the Phenix City police department. He was contacted again by the lottery company Friday morning, trying to talk him into sending more money. This time, he did not give in to the scheme.

WTVM News Leader 9 Irisha Jones contacted a representative by phone Friday afternoon from the so called lottery company and he identified himself as John White. He spoke vulgar words and adamantly said they are a lottery company.

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