Watch for con artists claiming to be with Better Business Bureau

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau -- beware -- it may be a plot to get your money.

The BBB has gotten several complaints about con artists using it's name. The BBB says this type of call targeting the elderly popped up about two years ago -- the criminals are back at it again. The consumer organization says the best advice if you get one these calls is to hang up.

Tom Gallagher with the BBB says, "In the first place, if you get a call from somebody telling you, you have won something hang up, just hang up don't even say goodbye, just hang up."

Gallagher is defending the organization's good name. He says con artists are calling senior citizens claiming to be with the BBB hoping to cash in. He says, "This trust with the citizens and consumers in Central Virginia, that is what's being played on so someone would hear the Better Business Bureau is involved in this and say well I know I can trust them, well you can't."

The caller on the other ends claims the person has won a large amount money or a gift basket. But in order to claim the prize the bogus caller wants you to pay taxes on the money or gift by wiring money through Western Union.

Gallagher says don't do it. He says, "The Better Business Bureau is not going to become involved in any kind of solicitation, we are not going to become involved in any kind of sweepstakes, we simply won't, nor will the FBI, nor will your local police departments, nor will the IRS.

There are already reports of several victims. Gallagher says, "In one case, it got all the way down to they told her she had to send $17.99 which she did, however they were talking about $1,700 and this elderly victim sent them 17 dollars and 99 cents." In this case, the victim became aware she was being scammed before she sent more money.

Gallagher says there is no elaborate method to how the crooks target their victims. He says, "I tend to think these guys aren't that sophisticated, they just start dialing."

The BBB says more than likely, if you get a call from someone claiming to represent the organization, it's a fraud. It will not initiate calls to consumers. The BBB believes these recent fraudulent calls may be coming from Jamaica. It says similar complaints last year came from the Island.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.