A recent scam in Massachusetts came to a halt when the criminals posed as agents of the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the very agency that protects consumers from scams.
In this case, fake Consumer Affairs staff told one woman that had won $300,000, but she would have to pay $360 for insurance before she collect the earnings. Suspecting this was a bogus call, she reported the caller to the Office of Consumer Affairs.
This scam makes the rounds and comes in and out of favor with criminals. Consumers should be wary of anyone who asks you for money over the phone. No legitimate government agency will contact you over the phone to offer you a prize or to ask for payments.
Even if consumers wise up and refuse to send money, many scammers can still gain access to bank accounts and steal consumer identity based on information they gathered during the phone call.
The Consumer Affairs office also warns consumers to not always believe the name on caller ID because scammers can easily falsify caller ID to appear like a legitimate agency. Consumers should also be equally wary of similar prize offers over e-mail and by post.