SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – A Springfield woman says a scammer wiped out her savings and warns you not to fall for it.
Someone contacted her on Facebook, saying she won the “Sweepzilla Sweepstakes” and won $14.7 million. The scammer tried to form a relationship with the victim and claimed he wanted to marry her. She then shared her personal information.
“He went by three different names, James Peters, James Ellis, and Mikhail Barrett, and he took out a charge card in my name,” said Patrice Rips, victim. “When I found out my money had been taken out and gone, I didn’t know where to turn.”
”Most likely, these scammers are not in your area, and research that Better Business Bureau has done shows a lot of the sweepstakes scammers are in Jamaica or overseas,” said Sarah Wetzel with the BBB.
The BBB says crooks use scare tactics and urgency to fool you.
In Patrice Rips’ case, she says it was taken to the extreme, and the swindler persuaded her to get another phone, take out loans, and even sell family jewelry.
Rips lost a total of $5000 according to bank statements and took out a loan of $1,050.00 after the scammer told her to.
”You have to be careful because especially if it’s asking you to pay first, because that’s a huge red flag,” said Wetzel. “Scammers love to pretend that they are from well-known companies, and the most we see is people claiming they are from Publishers Clearing House.”
Rips hopes her story can help save others from getting duped.
”You can’t trust anybody except the people closest to you. And that’s all you can trust,” said Rips.
If you are dealing with identity theft or know someone who is, do these three things:
-Call your bank
-Freeze your credit
-Contact the IRS as soon as you can file in January
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