JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville-area man received a long message this week saying he had won a prize worth $50,000.
But it wasn't real.
The message was part of a scam in which someone calls a victim, and a recorded message states the victim has won thousands of dollars in a sweepstakes prize. But experts say not to call the number back. The message is fake.
After Charles Chunn, Channel 4's research director, ignored a call from a 1-800 number, he received a voicemail from the caller.
"It just sounded fishy to me," Chunn said. "The guy was actually nice-sounding, said he had good news and congratulated me for winning, but he really didn't say who he was calling from, and he didn't give a company name and wanted me to call him back as soon as possible."
The man in the message told Chunn he had won $50,000 in a sweepstakes prize — but Chunn knew he hadn't registered in any such contest.
So he went online and did an Internet search for the number: 1-855-841-6084. He found other people who said the number was "a total scam."
"If they are calling me, they are probably calling (others), so I just thought it was important to let people know, just in case they are scammed by the same type of thing," Chunn said.
Channel 4's Tim Pulliam called the number on Friday.
"Thank you for calling National Premium Services," a message said. "If you know your party's extension, please dial or wait for the next available operator."
Tom Stephens with the Better Business Bureau said if someone answered, the person would likely claim that to collect a prize the caller has to pay a small fee or tax upfront – and the payment must be wired or submitted using a prepaid money card.
"We get 25 to 30 of these a week in some type of variety, so it is a constant, common occurrence," Stephens said. "Once you send that (money) off, once you give them the numbers on the money card, that money is gone. You will never get it back. They will be able to cash that and get the money."
Stephens said the scammers might have bought a list of numbers that they then use to try to collect money.
The BBB said either don't respond or contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.