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Is it a scam? We asked the scammer

Email received by KWCH viewer looks pretty legitimate...until you look a little closer.
Email received by KWCH viewer looks pretty legitimate...until you look a little closer.(Alex Flippin)
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 5:29 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Factfinder 12 investigators deal with a lot of scams. We get dozens of calls every week. Some are about scams we’ve already covered, but when we see a new one, we want to warn you so you don’t fall for it.

A KWCH viewer received an email informing them they had won $1,000,000, an additional $10,000 and a $500 Amazon gift card. The email looked official, appearing to originate from an online gaming business and containing a claim number and a registration number. The email instructed the recipient to contact “Mr , Michael andison<sic>” from the Federal Reserve to get the ball rolling. So, that’s exactly what Factfinder 12 did.

The person on the other end of the phone acted as if he had been expecting our call, even though we were never actually sent an email saying we’d won anything. He instructed us to head to our closest Dollar General store to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card in the amount of $375. He said it was to cover registration. In fact, he called it a registration card. For the record, Green Dot MoneyPaks are essentially prepaid debit cards.

After listening to the person claiming to be “Michael andison,” we explained we were investigating his scam. We asked how we were able to win the lottery without having entered to win. He hung up and blocked our phone number.

Take a look at the email that accompanies this article and you’ll see some “red flags” that point to this being part of a scam. Bad punctuation, bad spelling and bad grammar are good signs this is something bad. For instance, Look how “mr. Michael andison” is written and spaced. His last name isn’t even capitalized. The email is also signed by “Kevin Blake,” who purportedly works for the “Internal Revenue Services.” IRS stands for “Internal Revenue Service.” It’s not plural.

The next clue that something is fishy is the fact that we did not enter any contests that would have prompted the email. It was entirely unsolicited. Plus, contests generally don’t make you pay money to claim a prize, especially not with a gift card.

The best rule of thumb in any instance where you’re not quite sure if something is a scam is to ask if it seems too good to be true. That may sound cliché, but it can save a lot of headaches and heartache. If you receive a text, email or call from someone or something you’ve never heard of, ignore it. Also, never pay anyone with a gift card. If someone asks to receive payment in gift card form, it’s a sure sign something’s fishy.

Worth noting: The email associated with this scam looks fairly legitimate. It uses logos from agencies and businesses you may have heard of or have even done business with. If, for some reason, you think an email you receive might be legitimate, do not respond to the email or phone number provided. Look it up yourself on Google and contact them that way.

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