The Better Business Bureau just released a study, "Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams."  The study describes the problems these types of scams cause, the impact on the victims, where the scams often originate from, how they work, enforcement efforts to stop them, and makes recommendations about how to address the problem. 

According to the report, "Lottery and sweepstakes fraud is one of the most common consumer frauds operating today."  

Here are the key recommendations from the study: 

  • The Jamaican government should step up its efforts to fight lottery fraud; 
  • Law enforcement in the United States should do more extraditions and prosecutions of scammers; 
  • Law enforcement globally should continue to apply pressure to and prosecute deceptive mailing organizations; 
  • Create a one-stop phone number that people can call to find out if they really are a winner (such as 1-800-Did-I-Win); 
  • Facebook and other social media platforms should make additional efforts to prevent fake profiles from being posted and to actively search for and remove them, make it easier for members to contact them about fraud issues, and should take speedy action against in response to complaints; 
  • Money transfer services should continue to make efforts to prevent payment fraud; and
  • More research is needed to understand how fraud succeeds in duping older individuals and what can be done to prevent it.

The study was written by Steve Baker, the former Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Midwest Region.