Sweepstakes Swindle: Man falls for common scam, loses thousands of dollars

(WSVN) - A dream come true quickly turned into a nightmare for a South Florida man. The Nightteam’s Andrew Scheinthal shows us how that man found himself in the middle of a “Sweepstakes Swindle.”

Lonnie Davis received a call that he thought would change his life, but it ended up costing him more than he could ever imagine.

Lonnie Davis, scammed: “A whole lot, because I was out of money.”

When Lonnie first came to us, he was looking for help to recover what he thought was a big sweepstakes prize.

Someone claiming to be from All American Sweepstakes called to tell him he won $500,000.

Lonnie Davis: “They were trying to get a hold of me so that they could get these checks mailed to me.”

Those checks never came.

Miami Gardens Police said Lonnie was the victim of a common but very convincing scam.

Sgt. Miguel Irizarry, Miami Gardens Police: “You have to act now, because if you don’t act now, you’re going to lose it.”

Before calling 7News, Lonnie ended up sending nearly $2,000 in MoneyGram payments to someone in Philadelphia.

Sgt. Miguel Irizarry: “That’s a key clue. If they ask you, ‘Hey, wire the money to me,’ why am I wiring money to you?”

After sending the money, Lonnie said he never got a straight answer about when he would get his prize. In fact, he never got any answers when he called.

But they kept calling him even right in the middle of our interview with Lonnie.

Lonnie Davis: “That’s him.”

Lonnie Davis (on the phone): “And you say I have to get the fee done, so that the prize can be delivered from the airport. And how much is that fee? First you told me it was $400, now you’re saying that it’s $300?”

The scary part is, these scammers took things one step further.

They sent Lonnie these fake IRS tax forms to fill out, and they wanted a lot of his personal information.

Lonnie Davis: “Name, my social [security], what I have in my bank account.”

Police say you should never give anyone you don’t know your personal information, and if you think you are being scammed, you have to act fast.

Sgt. Miguel Irizarry: “I tell them to contact their bank, put blocks on their banks, contact all their credit cards. Same thing to contact the three credit bureaus.”

Lonnie said he has now taken the proper precautions and hopes to protect others by telling his story.

Lonnie Davis: “Look, it’s a scam. Stop everything, don’t send nobody no money. Don’t send them nothing.”

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