Medical Scam, Auction Scams, Lottery Scams and More…

Medical scam on seniors, trusting sellers ratings, foreign lotteries and cell phones: Internet ScamBusters #146

Today we are doing another subscriber Q&A issue. The questions we’ve answered are:

– As a senior, did I do the right thing by not giving out financial info to continue my medical coverage?

– A new online auction scam — plus who do you trust for auction seller ratings?

– How would I know if I really won a lottery with so many lottery scams?

– How can I tell if this order for my cell phone is legitimate?

But first, we wanted to let you know that we’ve created a new page warning about Hurricane Rita scams. This is the first disaster we know of where the scams started before the hurricane hit land! Visit now.

Let’s begin…

Internet ScamBusters Q&A

Question: I’m a senior, and recently received a call from someone who said they were with my county’s “medical office.” They wanted my credit card number or banking info so they could process a one-time charge of $200 to ensure the continuation of my medical coverage.

When I said no, the caller asked me “Do you want to lose all your medical care?”

It was scary. Did I do the right thing by declining to give the info?

Answer: You did exactly the right thing. This person was a scammer — there is absolutely no reason you should be charged $200 to continue your medical coverage.

Had you given the info, you would have lost the $200, perhaps everything in your bank account (if you gave that info), and perhaps your identity.

With all of the upcoming changes in Medicare prescription drug programs, we unfortunately expect to see a lot more senior medical scams.


Question: I haven’t found this one on ScamBusters:

It involves online auction sellers who sell a popular high priced item, like a camera or camcorder, at half the normal price.

The trick: They open the box, take out the necessary accessories (batteries, cables, manuals, etc.), sell you the item, and then call you on the phone to tell you that you have to buy accessories in order for the item to be fully operational. I don’t know if this is legal.

If the ad doesn’t say “New, in unopened, sealed box,” check for complaints about the seller with online searches and sometimes at the forums of

I’ve also found that some of these sellers have created fake websites for customer ratings, and give themselves glowing, top score ratings.

Who do you trust for seller ratings?

Answer: Great points and an excellent question.

Most reputable sellers will describe PRECISELY what is included in the auction, including every single accessory. Of course, if you have any question at all about what items are included, you can use eBay’s “Ask seller a question” link located in the Seller information area of the auction page.

Regarding seller ratings, the first line of defense is to always look carefully at the seller’s rating on eBay (or the auction site you are using). We have written more about protecting yourself at online auctions here.

Sometimes, the seller has an “off-eBay” website, which may be linked from the seller’s “About Me” page. You can go there and then use Google and Google Groups to find out more about the seller’s non-eBay reputation.

We assume your goal in asking this question is to protect yourself when you make purchases on eBay or other auction sites. There are some other good ways to do this, including using a credit card for your purchases, or using PayPal’s Buyer protection program (if the seller has a score greater than 50 and 98% positive feedback).

Thanks to Chuck Eglinton for help with this answer.


Question: I keep getting emails that I’ve won $98,000.000 or $150,000.000 or more in lotteries. Most are from the UK. Some want $989.00 courier fees. The last one was for $150.00 US for the courier fee.

How would I know if I really won such a lottery with so many scams? Thank you.

Answer: The number of foreign lottery scams has recently really mushroomed. We’ve been getting about double the number of questions lately.

How to know if you won with all the scams out there: If you don’t remember entering a lottery and you don’t have a receipt, you didn’t win. It’s really that simple.

We are also hearing that a lot of email scams have recently been moving back to fax. This is especially true of lottery scams and Nigerian scams.

You can read more about foreign lottery and other lottery scams here.


Question: I recently put my mobile phone for sale on the Internet. I received an email from Mary Smith [email address deleted]. She was interested in my cell phone. I asked her for her address so I could send it by mail after I received payment. The address she said I should send it to is: [Address deleted] Country: Nigeria

I thought the mail she sent me was strange and looked for her name on the net. I found your article called “Triple Whammy: Nigerian, Chat Room and Overpayment Scams — All in One,” which has the same name. Could you confirm if this is the person from the scam?

Answer: It doesn’t matter at all if it’s the same person — that person has probably changed ‘her’ name (it may or may not be a woman) several dozen times by now. There are hundreds of different people doing this exact same scam.

We’ll probably get a bunch of negative emails, but our experience — and that of dozens of our colleagues — is that we’ve never (not once) seen a legitimate order from Nigeria. There are of course honest people in Nigeria, but none of them seem to be placing Internet orders. 😉

So yes, we believe it’s a scam.


That’s it for now. Wishing you a great week.