Better Business Bureau: Sweepstakes scam alert

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Chicago and Northern Illinois is warning area residents of a sweepstakes scam in the Rockford area.

According to Dennis Horton, director of the BBB’s Regional Office in Rockford, a call came in from a young woman in Rockford who said she had received a call from a man who introduced himself as Jeff Bell, an employee of the BBB, and was informing her she had won $30,000 in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

Bell, who claimed to be in charge of security, told her the winnings were to be delivered by Brinks at 5 p.m. that day. However, before that could take place, she would need to send $600 via MoneyGram to cover certain fees. Details about where to send the money was to be forthcoming in a second phone call.

Additionally, Bell gave the would-be prize winner a phone number of (815) 283-5694. A check by BBB staff shows that number to be an unlisted number in Joliet, Ill.

Horton said: “It is important for the public to know that ‘Jeff Bell’ is not an employee of the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois or any other Bureau” and that “Better Business Bureau’s do not provide any kind of security services for sweepstakes or prize contests.” He also said “the Better Business Bureau name has been used in the past to lend credibility to all sorts of scams, and this is another example of that.”

He warned, should anyone be contacted by Bell or any other person masquerading as a BBB employee, do not provide that person with any personal or financial information that may be requested to claim your prize, and certainly do not wire money to anyone.

Horton said, “If you receive a call, please notify the BBB at (815) 963-2222, and to also contact your local authorities.”

From the Jan. 24-30, 2007, issue

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