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Fake lottery also features a fake call from FBI

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We all know that James Comey, much in the news of late, is very busy running the FBI.

But he was apparently not too busy to notify a Cloudcroft woman that she had won $1.5 million in a lottery.

In fact, the alleged Mr. Comey said in the recent email that his very busy FBI had taken time to investigate the prize and had verified it was legitimate. The lucky winner would get the money – as long as she wired $398 in advance, he told her. It was signed James Comey, with his photo.

The woman, who describes herself as a “75-year-young widow woman,” says during her 17 years in the banking industry she “had a lot of dealings with the FBI and (I) kinda remember how they work.” She didn’t recall the agency sending out lottery notices.

I thought about calling Mr. Comey for comment, but why bother someone that busy.

•••

And in other you’re-a-winner news, scammers are taking to cellphone pop-ups to tell people about supposed $1,000 gift certificates.

The pop-up, which comes while someone is browsing on their smartphone, says, “Congratulations. You’re today’s lucky visitor,” according to the Better Business Bureau.

The prize is a $1,000 gift card, and you can spend it at your choice from among a list of well-known stores. However, you have only two minutes to claim your prize, so you must decide quickly.

This can be confusing because the site you go to looks just like Facebook – same colors, font and blue navigation bar. Beware: it’s a fake, the BBB says.

The scammers try to give this bogus giveaway even more credibility by identifying the model of phone you’re using to browse. For example, they might identify you as a “loyal Apple customer.”

Here are a few tips from the BBB on spotting a giveaway or gift-card scam:

• Don’t believe what you see. It’s easy to steal the colors, logos, and header of any other established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender.

• When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the giveaway is a scam, you’re likely to find information about it.

• Look for a mismatched subject line and email body. Many of these scams have an email subject line promising one thing, but the content of the email is something completely different.

•••

However you celebrate Mother’s Day, don’t try to do it with a fake Lowe’s coupon that has been posted on Facebook.

The fake coupon promises $50 off merchandise to anyone in honor of Mother’s Day. However, those who click on the coupon are told they must first take a survey. They are redirected to a Loew’s-looking website, but it’s a fake. They then are asked to provide personal information in order to get the $50 deal.

“That, in itself, should be a dead giveaway,” Consumer Affairs says. “Companies these days are very careful about the information they request from consumers.”

This is really just a simple phishing scheme aiming to get consumers to reveal information they shouldn’t.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

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