CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

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November 22, 2012

Police warn about prize scam

CULLMAN — Cullman police are warning about a scam that promises prize money, but at a cost to the winner.

Police said at least one person has fallen victim to the scam and sent money to an address out of state. Lt. Gene Bates of the police department said the scam has been reported in other areas of the country.

“Typically, a person will be notified that they’ve won a prize but a processing fee is needed to free up the winnings,” Bates said. “That should be an automatic warning when someone asks you to pay anything for a prize.”

Bates said those behind the scam have been convincing in their presentations to victims. His advise is simply not to engage in a conversation with anyone offering such a scenario.

“If you haven’t entered a contest, then you probably are not winning anything. But if someone says you need to mail a check or cash to get a winning process started, it’s time to back away. If its sounds too good to be true, then that’s usually the case,” Bates said.

Bates said investigators make every effort to help victims of scams, but once a check or cash is mailed away it is difficult to ever recover the money.

“Some of these scams are connected to other countries. Once it crosses our borders there’s rarely anything that can be done,” Bates said.

Scams of various types have their way through north Alabama in recent years, but Bates said the holiday period can bring a rise in such cases. He said there is no age limit to the victims of scams, but many cases often involve elderly residents who live alone.

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