IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Direct messaging, cold calling and even texting are just some of the methods being used by fraudulent sweepstakes and lottery schemes to scam people out of money.
A new report from the Better Business Bureau says that these schemes netted at least $117 million in 2017 alone.
A median of $500 was lost out of 2,820 reports the bureau received.
In Idaho, 110 claims were made in 2017, with losses totaling nearly $615,000.
Senior citizens have been the main target, with the majority of victims between the ages of 65 and 74 years old.
Jamaica, Costa Rica and Nigeria have been identified as the most common places these scams are based, Jamaica being the major source of "cold calls." It's estimated that nearly 95% of reported fraud in Jamaica involves lottery or sweepstakes scams.
Jeremy Johnson, a member of the BBB in eastern Idaho, advised consumers to pay attention when receiving notifications about winning something.
"A lot of times what we are telling people is, if someone is contacting you and say you've won a prize, you need to think of a couple of things. First, did I enter a drive? Cause most of the time if you didn't enter you probably shouldn't win something," Johnson said.
"If you win something, you shouldn't have to pay to get your prize."
If you suspect that you may be a victim of these crimes, you are encouraged to speak with local law enforcement.