I covered some ground this weekend. Pisgah was in a good mood and I’m smiling back, legs are sore too. Point to point, Bent Creek to Cove Creek Campground, 24 hours of Obiefest, than point to point Cove Creek to Bent Creek. Otto turned two, Lucy had her first wipeout on the strider, trying to sleep reminded me of Bonaroo, we shivered and worried about the kids freezing, maybe slept after the last dog barked, then woke and slowly realized how sun and warmth can ease the aches.Winter’s broke and Pisgah is refreshed. The ground is saturated and spongy, the beeches are washed up with new rocks, the trails are drying out, and the hemlocks are all dead. I like to see the little changes over a winter and think about time. Pisgah is at least six thousand and one. Thinking about geological time makes me feel ok with things, I’m alright existing in geological time.I haven’t been riding as much as I’d hoped but I feel ok considering. If there’s one thing I can do it’s wing it. Carpenters are famous for that. On the job you have a plan but you learn when to shelve the plan and look at the house. I’ve got winging it down. It might be a great attribute and downfall as such things go. As this year’s racing season comes upon me I can tell one thing and that’s that I’ll be going back to the tried and true strategies of winging it, getting loose on the downhill’s, and saying my prayers. Right now I’m just thankful for a great weekend, an epic with my dad on Saturday, Trish getting a good one today, and a solo mission home.Oh, and also thankful to be soon riding the lightest bike of my life, a Scott. It’s lining up just like I planned.
Indianapolis, In. — A new report by Better Business Bureau (BBB) says sweepstakes, lottery and prize schemes are devastating victims financially and emotionally with ever-evolving methods. These frauds concentrate on seniors, targeting them by direct mail, cold calling, social media, even text messages and smartphone pop-ups. BBB warns consumers to be on guard against these serious and pervasive frauds and their perpetrators.The report – “Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How ‘Winners’ Lose Millions Through an Evolving Fraud” – notes these scams bilked $117 million out of half a million Americans and Canadians in 2017 alone, with actual victims and losses likely numbering much higher. BBB received 2,820 sweepstakes and lottery scam reports in Scam Tracker in 2017, with a median loss of $500. Seniors are the most frequent target and suffer the largest losses by far in these scams, which the report found commonly originate in Jamaica, Costa Rica and Nigeria.The report recommends stronger law enforcement efforts on three fronts — in Jamaica, which has seen an upswing in violence related to lottery fraud profits; in the U.S., where law enforcement is urged to step up extraditions and prosecutions of overseas fraudsters operating in the U.S.; and globally, as law enforcement agencies worldwide are encouraged to take steps toward holding deceptive mailing organizations accountable and stopping fraudulent mail. It also urges Facebook and other social media platforms to take steps to weed out fake, fraudulent profiles and make fraud reporting easier.Among the Indianapolis area victims is a man in his late 40s who was contacted via social media by someone claiming to work for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. He was told he had won a prize, but had to first complete a form and submit payment for the $3,500 delivery fee. Being on disability, the man submitted the payment in installments through wire transfer. While he did not pay the full amount, he did end up losing $3,100.Among the report’s key findings:The majority of lottery or sweepstakes scam victims are between 65 and 74 years old. Among that age group, people who recently experienced a serious negative life event, and who expect their income in the near future to remain steady or decline, are even more likely to be victimized.Sweepstakes/lottery fraud can strike through many channels – phone calls, text messages, pop-ups on a smartphone’s Internet browser, social media and mailings.In 2017, 2,820 individuals reported sweepstakes and lottery scams to BBB Scam Tracker. These reports show a median loss of $500, with wire transfer as the most frequent method of payment.Jamaica is a major source of “cold calls” to victims who are told they have won money. Although similar calls come from Costa Rica, the scam has had a major impact in Jamaica, where the amount of money generated by lottery fraud has resulted in gang wars between rival fraud groups, leading to a dramatic spike in violence. More than 95 percent of reported fraud in Jamaica involves lottery or sweepstakes scams.The report was written by C. Steven Baker, BBB International Investigations Specialist. Baker is the retired director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Midwest Region.In his role with BBB, Baker is working with an alliance of five BBB’s, including the St. Louis office, in analyzing and reporting on some of the most pervasive fraud issues that impact American consumers. Studies on puppy scams, tech support scams, and romance scams he authored were met with worldwide media coverage.BBB offers the following tips for consumers to avoid being caught in lottery or sweepstakes fraud:True lotteries or sweepstakes don’t ask for money. If they want money for taxes, themselves, or a third party, they are most likely crooks.Call the lottery or sweepstakes company directly to see if you won. Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does have a sweepstakes but does not call people in advance to tell them they’ve won. Report PCH imposters to their hotline at 800-392-4190.Check to see if you won a lottery. Call the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries at 440-361-7962 or your local state lottery agency.Do an internet search of the company, name, or phone number of the person who contacted you.Law enforcement does not call and award prizes.Talk to a trusted family member or your bank. They may be able to help you stay in control of your money in the face of fraudster pressure.