The National Consumer League is warning of what it calls “gotcha” scams.
One of the big scams currently involves tricking consumers into thinking they have won a Publishers Clearing House contest.
Roger Brink thought he hit the jackpot when he received a letter claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House. But the sweepstakes that promised a car and $850,000 in cash was a fake.
When Brink called to claim his prize, the operator said he needed to send $6,000 on a prepaid card to cover expenses. He sent in his money, but the winnings never arrived because it was all a con.
"They kept saying, ‘at 3 o'clock today you'll have everything.’ Well, they didn't and I don't," recalls Brink.
What's even worse, Brink could be targeted by scammers again.
"There are lists of people: it's called a suckers list," says Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of The National Consumer League. She says the list is created by con artists overseas.
"They make billions of dollars scamming consumers around the world and they trade information," explains Greenberg.
One piece of information they trade is the names of people who've fallen for previous scams.
“The fraudster will call the previous victim and say, ‘I know you lost $10,000. For a mere $1,000 we're going to help you get all that money back.’ And that should be a red flag that is - yet again - another scam," says Greenberg.
Scams involving sweepstakes are very common. Publishers Clearing House says it never asks winners to pay to claim a prize.
That’s a lesson Roger Brink learned the hard way.