The commission said scammers use recordings to authorize unwanted charges.
Fake lottery scams frauded 158 Hawaii residents totaling to $85,000 in 2017, according to a new report by the Better Business Bureau.
These types of fraud target victims through many channels, including direct mail, cold calling and even social media and texting. They usually tell victims they've won a large amount of money, then overwhelm them with messages demanding victims to pay multiple fees of escalating amounts.
One Honolulu victim lost $1,500 after being told they were a Publishers' Clearing House winner. The scammer told them to wire money to cover taxes and fees to a government account in order to claim the prize.
The report found that half a million Americans and Canadians lost over $117 million to these scams last year.
Seniors between the ages of 65 to 74 years old are most frequently victimized by these scams. Among this age group, people who have recently experienced a serious negative life event, and those who expect their income to remain steady or decline in the near future, are even more likely to be victimized, according to the BBB.
The report calls for social media platforms such as Facebook to take steps to identify and weed out fake profiles and to make fraud reporting more accessible for users. It also recommends law enforcement in the U.S. to step up extraditions and prosecutions of overseas fraudsters.
To avoid falling victim to fraud, the BBB offers these tips:
True lotteries and sweepstakes don't ask for money; if they do, they're most likely scammers.
Research the company name or phone number of the person who contacted you to check credentials
Check the lottery company to see if you are on their list of winners