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Sweepstakes scams hitting local residents, say state officials


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - A new round of phone scams are sweeping the state.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection say that the callers claim to be from Publisher's Clearing house or Reader's Digest, and say that you've won the big prize. All they need is for you to pay the fees on that prize with a prepaid cash card. Administrator Sandy Chalmers says that's a scam. "Any request from a stranger for money via a prepaid card is likely a scam."

The prefered card for the scammers is the Green Dot MoneyPak card which is available from most drug or convenience stores. Those cards can be loaded up with money, but just as easily emptied, according to Chalmers. "Once the money is gone, it's gone, and it's very hard to get it back."

Remember that legitimate sweepstakes will not charge you any money if you win, and that you should always be wary of winning a prize you never signed up for. The Green Dot website says right on their homepage to be very aware that anyone asking for the confidential info on your card is likely trying to scam you.

If you have been the victim of these scams, call police, or the DATCP, and get as much information to the police as you can.

ON THE WEB:Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protectionhttp://datcp.wisconsin.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.