How To Avoid Falling Victim To Phone Scammers

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The scams have also been personal for Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who told ABC News his own mother was called by the swindlers. "She calls me and goes, 'Jon, I won this sweepstakes, and I'm just wondering if it's possible that this could be not legitimate.' And I was like, 'Mom, I think it probably is a scam.'"

But among those most alarmed have been the officials who lead the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which relies on the trust of the public for its funding. Earlier this year, the non-profit organization posted a fraud alert on its website. But Allvin said the volume of calls from victims only increased.

"We've never seen something so despicable," Allvin said. "These people around hiding offshore -- willingly destroying people's lives by taking every nickel they can suck out of them. And they're using the good name of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to do it. I'm not sure how much more you can pile on top of that collection of underhanded tactics just to line your own pockets."

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has set up a hotline for victims to call to report having been ripped off. It is 1-866-DHS-2ICE. The Federal Trade Commission has posted information about the scams and advice for victims on two special web pages here and here and has also been compiling a list of complaints for law enforcement agencies to pursue.

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This week is the 31st episode of "Brian Ross Investigates." All shows are archived on Hulu for viewing.

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