Cleveland mother falls victim to scam via Facebook

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A new study shows that despite the warnings, thousands are still falling for sweepstakes and prize scams.

Most of the victims are seniors, but many younger people have lost money, too.

Cinci Smith of Cleveland is a hardworking mother of two. Like other families, money is tight for Smith and her kids, that's why losing 450 dollars to a Facebook scam hurts so much.

Smith says she was contacted through Facebook Messenger and told she had won a 90,000 gr ant.

"They said that they were with Facebook - they were Facebook officials and I was one of the couple thousand people that was selected, but there were requirements in order to get the gr ant first," said Smith.

Smith's scammers had pictures of themselves with what looked to be other prize winners and even contacted her friends telling them she had won money, but then something didn't seem right.

The scammers told Smith that she needed to buy 450 dollars worth of ITunes cards.

"When they asked for the ITunes cards, I was like ITunes cards? Why wouldn't you at least ask for Visa money cards cause they can go for anything other than iTunes cards. So that sent me an alert, but I was just so happy, and I was humiliated," added Smith.

Smith says she still sent one man on Facebook, $450 worth of ITunes cards.

Then, she realized the whole thing was a fraud.

"It's just definitely, I want to say, embarrassing," described Smith.

A Better Business Bureau study that was just released reveals that Smith, unfortunately, is one of thousands that have fallen victim to Sweepstakes, Lottery, Prize Schemes.

In 2017 alone, half a million Americans and Canadians lost 117 million dollars to someone who told them they won something but needed to pay money or buy something to get their prize.

Sue McConnell, the President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau, says you should never have to pay money upfront for a prize.

"If somebody says you've won a big pile of money, but you need to send money in order to get it or buy something to get it, it's a fraud," said McConnell.

Smith reported the incident to the Better Business Bureau, but she still is out $450.

"If it's too good to be true, than I would go with that," said Smith.

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