FTC SCAM ALERT: Shutting Down A Sweepstakes Scam That Sought Out Seniors
By Alvaro Puig, FTC Consumer Education Specialist // November 19, 2015
Never pay to collect a prize
In the past few years, you’ve heard warnings from us about different scams that offered prizes like money, jewelry, or vacations – all in exchange for a fee.
And we’ve heard from you to the tune of more than a quarter of a million complaints about prize and sweepstakes scams in the last three years.
Thanks in part to those complaints, today the FTC put a stop to a sweepstakes scam targeting older people.
The victims got an official-looking letter with seals, stamps, and identification numbers that said they had won $2 million dollars or more.
To claim their millions all they had to do was send $20-$30 by cash, check, or money order. Sadly, the only ones collecting millions were the scam artists, who the FTC estimates made more than $25 million from the scheme.
If you get a letter, an email, a text message or a phone call that says you’ve won a prize, here’s what you can do to steer clear of a scam.
Never pay to collect a prize. Whatever they say the money is for – taxes, shipping and handling charges, or processing fees – don’t believe them. Don’t send money or give them your checking account or credit card number.
Don’t let yourself be rushed. Scammers will tell you to act now or you’ll miss out. Take your time and talk to someone you trust before you do anything.
Tell people you know about it. By talking about scams, you might help someone you care about avoid falling for one.
Tell the FTC about it. Report scams at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP. Your report makes a difference and could help make losers out of scam artists running bogus sweepstakes.