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Published February 08, 2013, 01:21 PM

Devils Lake Man Loses $50,000 in Sweepstakes Scam

Police say an elderly Devils Lake man lost approximately $50,000 in a sweepstakes scam. The man, who is in his 80s, made several payments over the past few months to the phony company after being notified that he had won a “U.S. Sweepstakes” prize of $48.5 million.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Police say an elderly Devils Lake man lost approximately $50,000 in a sweepstakes scam.

The man, who is in his 80s, made several payments over the past few months to the phony company after being notified that he had won a “U.S. Sweepstakes” prize of $48.5 million, according to Devils Lake Police Department Detective Sue Schwab.

However, in order to collect the prize, he was informed that he would have to pay various fees to collect the money.

“There is actually a legitimate company with that name, but this was not that company,” she said, adding that while the scammers used the legitimate business’s name, it also gave a phony address.

In order to pay the fees, the victim provided access codes for pre-paid Green Dot cards he loaded with funds, which allowed the con artists to access the money, Schwab said.

Green Dot cards are prepaid debit cards available at retailers that may be used like normal debit or credit cards.

A letter the victim received makes reference to the money being deposited “with ‘Bank of America’ insured in your name.” It also says all fees must be paid, and that a fee also will be charged “for the ‘FTC’” to approve the check.

In addition, Schwab said, company agents in telephone calls claimed to be with the FBI or Internal Revenue Service.

“They would never get involved in a legitimate sweepstakes,” Schwab said. “What happened finally is that he received a counterfeit check. He deposited in his account, and tried to cash it,” she said.

Several days later, the bank notified the victim that the check was counterfeit, she said.

Devils Lake police are continuing its investigation, and are cooperating with federal authorities, who say these kinds of sweepstakes fraud are common. Police say it’s possible other people in the region may be getting similar bogus prize notifications.

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