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July 3, 2013     Sentinel Tribune
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July 3, 2013

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE VIEWPOINT Wednesday, July 3, 2013 Page 4 876 Phone Numbers often add up to Trouble BBB warns of Jamaican sweepstakes scams It happens in our area countless times every single day: the phone rings and unsuspecting people "pick up" and are told they&apos;ve won a sweepstakes prize. Though these phone calls are all fraudu- lent in nature, a quick way to identify calls like this is to look at your caller ID. Is the caller's pre- fix 876? If so, the call originated from Jamaica, a hotbed for sweep- stakes seams. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is urging people to be aware of this type of seam and to warn friends and loved ones about it. "These sweepstakes calls sound wonderful and it would be nice if even one of them was legitimate," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. "However, they're not. Many of these calls come from boiler rooms in Jamaica, and anyone playing along with them guaran- tees the only real winners will be the scammers." Though the 876 area code might look "local," it's actually the tele- phone prefix assigned to Jamaica. In recent years there have been many news reports about fraudu- lent cold-calling operations oper- ating out of that country and tar- geting U.S. consumers. According to AARP, approximately 30,000 calls are made from Jamaica into the U.S. every day attempting to defraud American citizens. Beyond claiming potential victims have won a cash prize, foreign scammers also drop ref- erences to luxury sports cars to sweeten the package. They will also falsely claim affiliations with established companies or govern- ment agencies, including the FTC, Publishers Clearing House and the . !'.! BBB. However, like the "prizes," these affiliations are non-existent and used only to try to bolster the bogus callers' credibility. In some cases, these Jamaican scammers have even resorted to threats of physical harm in an attempt to get victims to make on the spot pay- ments. To avoid falling victim to sweep- stakes seams, the BBB provides the following advice: *Screen your calls. If you see a call from an 876 area code, it's very likely a scammer on the other end of the line. *Stay realistic. You can't win a contest you didn't enter, and if you're told you have to pay anything to collect your winnings, you haven't won anything. *Remember, you're in charge. If you don't like the way a call is going, simply hang up. If the calls keep coming, report them to the proper authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission ( <> ), as well as the Better Business Bureau. *Don't be bullied. Though it's important to ensure your own safety, keep in mind the major- ity of these calls are made from outside the country. If calls you receive become threatening in nature, report them to your local authorities immediately. *Never wire money. Sweepstakes scams usually come with a request to wire funds for supposed fees such as insurance or taxes - don't play along. Some scammers are now asking people to purchase Green Dot MoneyPaks and then share the number on the back. By doing this, you're giving criminals all the information they need to drain the funds loaded onto these MoneyPaks. Other lottery solicitations are sent through the mail or via email. To further help consumers iden- tify a lottery or sweepstakes seam, the BBB provides the following checklist: *Was the lottery notification delivered to you by mail or email? If so, it's likely fraudulent. *Were you sent a check or money order with your notifica- tion? Fraudulent promoters will usually send a check or money order along with notification to convince you they are real. While the checks and money orders may look official, they are counterfeit! *Are you asked to wire money to cover some type of fee or taxes? Fraudulent promoters will ask you to deposit their check or money order and then instruct you to wire money back to them to cover what they claim are administrative fees, insurance or taxes on your "win- nings." They also may instruct you to call a number to learn more about your prize. If so, they will likely seek personal informa- tion that will undoubtedly be used for identity theft purposes. If you deposit a bogus check or money order in your bank account, keep in mind that you will be held responsible for any money:you spend against those non-existent funds. *Does the notification appear to come from another country? Organizations behind these frauds operate under different names, often derived from well-known lotteries in other countries. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to partici- pate in foreign lotteries over the phone or through the mail. *Are the notifications sent by people claiming to be bankers, gaming officials, claims agents, tax collectors, attorneys, or affili- ated with agencies like the FTC or BBB? Scam artists will use any number of titles - or claim bogus affiliations - in an effort to con- vince you that they are legitimate. Don't be fooled. Anytime you receive a strange notification or are told you've won a prize, contact the BBB ( or 800-646-6222) to avoid becoming the next victim in this type of scheme. Mission Statement The Sentinel Tribune serves the residents and business community of Cottonwood, Redwood, Murray and Lyon County and southwest Minnesota by apply- ing its available resources to accurately and consis- tently produce a quality newspaper which thoroughly covers the news of the area, stimulates thought and conversation, delivers advertising messages in a timely manner, and provides information of general value to its public. In so doing contributes to the overall quality of life and economic health of its readers, advertisers and community in general while stimulating the profes- sional development of its employees. tbarn00 AI Bart... "Stories from the Bait Cave" Some days, you can't win and you might lose The roast had started on fire while he was cooking it. Zim had to put it out with the soup. Zim decided to skip dinner and get some work done. He missed an occasional meal. He was skinny. When he was a boy, they called him Slim Zim. He smoked. Rolled his own cigarettes. He didn't need the exercise, but he enjoyed the process. His real name was Zim, but everyone called him Zim. He was a good man. He always chased wayward cows home to the proper farm--practicing the fine art of regifting. Oh, Zim had his peculiarities. His whiskers grew inward. He never had to shave. He just chewed them off. A doctor told Zim that cracking'lais'knuckles didn't cause arthritis, so he cracked them con- stantly in church. He claimed that the only thing on his bucket list was a visit to Kansas City, Montana. No one had the heart to tell him to look for that city in Missouri. Zim farmed with his older sis- ter and her husband. They lived a half-mile away. His sister had been after him constantly to fix the windmill. It clanked when it should have squeaked. If a man says he's going to do something, he will. He doesn't need to be reminded about it every six months. Zim climbed to the top of the windmill and repaired it in no time fiat. It gave him the hiccups. Upon completion of the work, Zim found he had quite a pile of tools and old parts to take to the shed. Rather than carry all that stuff down by hand, Zim decided to lower it all in a barrel by using a pulley attached to the top of the windmill. Zim secured a rope at ground level, climbed back up the wind- mill, and loaded the things into the barrel. Then he hurried down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the heavy barrel. Zim was thin, not weighing many times his birth rate. Zim was surprised to discover that the bar- rel and its contents far outweighed him. He was jerked offthe ground, causing him to lose his presence of mind and to forget to let go of the rope. Zim proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the windmill. On his way up, Zim met the bar- rel which was headed downward at an impressive speed. A nasty colli- sion ensued .... Slowed only slightly, Zim con- tinued his rapid ascent, not stop- ping until the f'mgers of his right hand were deep into the pulley. By this time Zim had come to his senses and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of the excruciat- ing pain. The barrel hit the ground and the bottom was knocked from it. Now devoid of the weight of its contents, the barrel weighed less than Zim. Zim began a rapid descent down the side of the windmill. You would have done the same. He met the barrel coming up. The meeting did Zim no good. Zim hit the ground, landing on the pile of objects that had once been in the barrel. As Zim laid there in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel far above him, he had a weak moment and released his grip on the rope. The barrel fell on Zim. That cured his hiccups. Permanently. As his brother-in-law said sadly, "Well, at least Zim was wearing clean underwear." The day of the funeral was fair. It was well attended. The church's old pastor, who had just retired, performed the service. The new preacher, inexperienced and at his first church, was to hold the graveside burial service at the cemetery. Not knowing exactly where the cemetery was, he'd made several wrong turns and became lost. When he f'mally arrived, he was an hour late. The hearse was nowhere in sight and the mourners had left, but a backhoe was next to an open hole and the workmen were sitting under a tree having lunch .... , The diligent young pastor went to the open grave and fqund the vault lid already in place. Feeling guilty because of his tardiness, he preached an impassioned and lengthy service, sending the deceased to the great beyond in style. As he walked to his car, the pas- tor overheard one of the workmen say to another, "I've been doing this job for over 20 years and those were the nicest words I've ever heard said over a new septic tank." AI Batt 2013 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 F, s C inlnln'nnl'r i1! 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