WASHTUCNA - Terry Clodius of Washtucna thought he was getting $3.5 million and a BMW. Instead, he was scammed out of about $20,000.
The 64-year-old found out Friday that he had been a victim of the so-called Jamaican Sweepstakes scam.
The Better Business Bureau said this week that there has been a surge in this type of sweepstakes scam nationwide.
As part of the scam, speakers with Jamaican accents claim that they are with the Better Business Bureau. And in Clodius' case, the Spokane bureau was where he was told he could pick up his prizes.
Never miss a local story.
The BBB doesn't run sweepstakes and said in a news release that phone "numbers can be easily spoofed, blocked and ... easily faked."
The Jamaican Sweepstakes scam is one the bureau has issued multiple warnings about.
Clodius said the scam he fell victim to started almost two years ago. He said the caller told him they got his name from Walmart, where he had paid for a purchase with a check.
He first was told that he had won money from one company, and then that it was Publishers Clearing House, a New York-based marketing company known for its sweepstakes.
He was told that he had won a sweepstakes but had to pay taxes first, and then interest.
The scammers kept asking for money -- $700 here, $1,000 there. Clodius estimated that he sent about $20,000 to scammers through Western Union and MoneyGram in about 25 transactions.
"I've got nothing," he said.
Clodius said the callers even faxed photos of the promised car, which was burgundy and pearl, and documents that appeared legitimate from Publishers Clearing House, the Washington State Gambling Commission and Internal Revenue Service.
Clodius said that he was told the person who was supposed to deliver the car to him had been arrested for drunken driving and was at the Spokane County jail, and needed bail.
"I should have checked then," he admitted.
The scammers gave Clodius an address in Spokane that they claimed was the BBB and the location where he would receive his prizes. But Clodius, who helps transport mail, said he couldn't find 21 E. Rockwood Blvd. on his Spokane map.
That's when he called the BBB in Spokane, and he was told he had been the victim of a scam. Clodius said he called Publishers Clearing House with a number BBB employees gave him, and was told that the company doesn't ever do sweepstakes like the one he was told he won.
The BBB advises those who get a similar call or become victim to a scam to file a police report.
Clodius said people shouldn't send money to anyone they don't know. And he advised looking out for numbers beginning in 876, as those are from Jamaica.
"I got robbed," he said.