CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office is warning West Virginians to be wary of another scam claiming the call recipient has won a sweepstakes.

WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his office has received reports from citizens that they have been victims or targets of a scam that claims the call recipient has won a sweepstakes. Morrisey says one way the scammers try to trick their targets is to use familiar names to “lure consumers into a false sense of trust” to convince them to claim the alleged prize.

“Consumers can fall prey to sweepstakes scams as the ploy can appear very attractive – who doesn’t want to win money?” Morrisey said. “However, it is important consumers verify the legitimacy of any win. Also, look for warning signs such as unusual word choices or improper grammar if you receive a letter from the supposed sweepstakes.”

In these sweepstakes scams, the scammers tell the targeted person they have won a lottery or sweepstakes, but must pay taxes and fees up front before they can claim their prize.

Morrisey said one person from Upshur County lost nearly $18,000 to one of these scams after the scammer convinced them to send money through a gift card, a money order, MoneyGram and Western Union. He says people who have allegedly won a prize should never agree to send cash, wire money or provide numbers associated with a gift card, a debit or credit card, or their bank account.

“Most importantly, never give money to a scammer or allow them to access your credit card or computer.”

According to Morrisey’s office, you can tell if the call is a scam because legitimate organizations such as state lotteries, government agencies or the Publisher’s Clearing House will never ask winners to pay to receive their prizes. He says additional red flags include being asked to pay upfront fees or taxes, being pressured to act immediately and if you’re receiving a call about a sweepstakes you never entered.

Anyone who has questions or believes they or someone they know may have been a victim of a sweepstakes scam can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or on the WVAG’s website.