Stay Secure- Prize Scams

Happy reading week, York University! While this week's scam is similar to extortion scams, it has some differences. Let's dive into this particular type of scam which has seen an uptick in recent years: the prize scam.

Preying mainly on seniors and other groups who may be not as technologically savvy, prize scams are straightforward. The scammer calls the victim, claiming that they have won a prize, and requests the victim pay an upfront fee to cover legal or tax costs. Once the victim has paid by the method instructed by the scammer, no prize is ever received.

The prizes offered by the scammers tend to range from monetary prizes, cars, houses, stocks, and even more unique rewards such as high value fashion items. Since these scams are targeted at less technologically savvy groups, scammers will often use unsolicited phone calls as the main method of contacting victims, although emails and web advertisements are used as well.

Now that you know what prize scams look like, follow these simple steps to avoid falling for one:

    • Well-known sweepstakes and lotteries such as "Reader's Digest" would NEVER ask you to pay an upfront fee for any type of winnings.
    • If any fees are required for the winnings, they would not be paid through services like MoneyGram, Western Union, or prepaid credit cards.
    • As a general rule, do not give out personal information over the phone, especially to unsolicited calls.

Stay Safe. Stay Secure.