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Can you help me get my money back if I am a victim of a prize scam?

This common scam is often run out of a boiler room and targets the elderly or other vulnerable persons.  Typically, the scammer will tell the victim that a prize has been won, but that a certain amount of money is required to pay for taxes, transport fees, customs fees or a host of other "fees".  These "fees" go directly to the pockets of the scammer and the victim is left with nothing more than an empty wallet.  If the potential victim states that they are unable to provide the requested amount for fees, the scammer will often find a way to have some of the fees waived or some of the fees "paid" by the scammer so the victim is required to pay less money.  The scammer usually requires that the money be sent by wire transfer to "expedite" the transfer of the prize winnings to the victim, when in reality this is nothing more than a trick to get the money to the scammer quickly.

But remember, whether the scammer convinces the victim to send hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars, it's still a scam and all the money goes to the scammer.  These scams often operate out of "boiler rooms", changing locations frequently, or using cell phones to contact victims, making it difficult, at best, to find the scammers.  In addition, typically the scammer is calling from out of country making the detective work even more difficult because of international investigative jurisdiction problems.

Once you have sent money to a scam like this, it's not likely you'll be able to get it back.  Also, once you have fallen prey to this scam, the scammer will often try to hit you up for other scams.  Be wary of any unsolicited prize notifications.  If a caller claims you won a prize in the lottery, try to think back to the last time you entered the lottery.  If you can't remember entering the lottery, chances are you may be talking to a scammer.  If this is the case, notify your local law enforcement agency for help or contact the Federal Trade Commission.


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