State officials warn about increase of sweepstakes scams

(KSFY) - South Dakota's Attorney General is warning about a recent increase in sweepstakes and wire transfer scams happening around the state.

Attorney General Marty Jackley issued the warning Thursday, saying his office has received received several complaints about scams recently.

Jackley said one person in South Dakota even wired approximately $400,000 over the course of years to one of these scams.

Investigators say consumers who have fallen victim to this scam find themselves so consumed that the scammer convinces them to cash out investment accounts, retirement accounts, anything of value that will result in the scammer receiving legitimate funds.

The following are some tips from the Attorney General's office to avoid getting caught in a scam:

• If someone sends you a check and asks you to send money back in return, DON’T. No legitimate contest can ask for money to be sent to be sent to them.

• If someone asks you to wire money to claim a sweepstakes prize, don’t. Legitimate companies do not ask for money upfront to covers fees and they do not ask for money to be wired before an award can be paid out.

• Be cautious of sound alike names. Scammers often use the names of legitimate companies in an attempt to deceive and gain consumers trust.

If you have been a victim of this scam please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division as 1-800-300-1986 or consumerhelp@state.sd.us.