A sneaky Powerball scam is soliciting personal information from Wisconsin consumers, setting them up for potential future scams, officials warned.
Lottery scams usually involve scammers telling their victims that they won a prize but have to pay taxes or fees to claim the prize. Sometimes, scammers will also ask for personal information such as Social Security numbers.
But that doesn't happen in the current Wisconsin Powerball Lottery scam.
Instead, callers tell consumers they are eligible for unclaimed Powerball prizes and ask them to pick some numbers. Later, the callers contact the consumers again and claim they won a third or fourth prize of a car and millions of dollars, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) said in a recent news release.
"They seem to be 'casing' the consumers for future scams, asking them general financial questions about their investments and the values of their homes," the warning said.
According to the DATCP news release, "If a consumer freely and eagerly answers the scammer's questions, that scammer now has two important pieces of information: the overall wealth of the consumer and a sense that the consumer will be an easy and receptive target for future scams. These profiles are valuable for scammers and may be sold and shared among the criminals."
Consumers are confused about the recent scam calls and have been calling DATCP to find out whether the calls were legitimate, the news release said.
"Because these Powerball calls have not included the usual scam red flags of requests for money, sensitive personal data or bank or credit account numbers, it has been a challenge for the hotline staff to persuade consumers that the calls are fraudulent," the warning stated.
The Wisconsin Powerball lottery is run by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, which is aware of the scam. The DOR said the agency only calls consumers if they entered and won the lottery "mail in" drawing.
What can you do if you receive one of these calls?
Do not give the caller any information; simply hang up on the caller.
People should file a complaint with:
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection
Consumer Protection Hotline - 1-800-422-7128
File a consumer complaint online.
To report health care and consumer scams, call Wisconsin SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) at 1-800-488-2596, ext. 317, or visit our website at www.wisconsinsmp.org to learn more.