BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Better Business Bureau seems to be under attack. Scammers are exploiting the bureau’s good name and reputation to steal the identity and money from unsuspecting victims across the U.S.
Cynthia Majors’ brush with a scam started with a phone call to her Buffalo home: great news, she had won a $4 million lottery.
The same caller made several attempts to convince Majors she was a winner, and Cynthia played back one of the messages left on her answering machine, “This is Mr. Mark Anderson speaking, and I am calling you from the Better Business Bureau.”
Cynthia figured it out real fast, when the caller claimed he was from the Better Business Bureau: the calls were part of a scam.
Majors recalled her thoughts when she heard the message,”Something is not right with this call. So I just kept talking to him to see how much information, from him, I could get to see what kind of information from me, he was trying to get.”
“Mark Anderson” told Cynthia, all she had to do to get her millions was wire $499 to cover some non-specific charge.
“They took all the insurance and fees and taxes and stuff out, so I said why don’t you take the $499 out of that? He comes up with this ‘landish excuse, ‘oh no we can’t do that because it is a check and it has already been written’.”
Several Better Business Bureaus, including the bureau in San Francisco, have put out a nationwide alert, warning consumers and businesses to be wary of scams exploiting the bureau’s good name.
Upstate BBB spokesperson Peggy Penders said the latest fraud invoking the Better Business Bureau’s name is a phishing scam, using an email with a ZIP file attachment that looks just like it could be from the B-B-B, but when opened, it downloads a virus or malware that can do all kinds of harm.
“It was ‘BBBL.org’, so the confusion was present, but you had to really pay attention to the details in the information that you recieved.”
In Cynthia’s case, Penders said those lottery phone calls Majors received came from the “876” area code, which is in Jamaica.
“Do your own research, make your own phone calls to determine whether or not you were the winner of a particular lottery. There are winners–we know that–but they are not going to be contacting you from Jamaica.”
Penders also reminds consumers, once again, you can’t win a lottery you never heard of, if you didn’t put money on it. As New York Lottery commercials have said for years, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.
Another reminder, Penders adds, if you do win a lottery or contest, you never have to pay before receiving your prize. Fees and taxes are deducted from your winnings.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus is fighting back against the scams. The national Council has contacted the FBI and Interpol to try and catch the scammers.