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You Can’t Win

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an open mailbox with mailIs it your lucky day? If you’ve gotten a call or letter saying you’ve won a big cash prize, and just need to pay a small fee to claim it, maybe not.

The FTC has announced a case against an operation that allegedly sent millions of personalized, professional-looking letters to people saying a cash prize of more than $2 million was reserved, “guaranteed and deliverable,” just for them. All the “winners” had to do was return a form with a $20 or $30 acceptance or registration fee. The letters targeted older people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and dozens of other countries; altogether, the scam took in more than $9 million from its victims.

But there was no prize, the FTC says. In fact, the hard-to-see fine print said the company doesn’t sponsor sweepstakes or award prizes at all, and is instead in the business of compiling a report of available sweepstakes. But there’s no evidence that people who paid got even that.

Still hoping for your golden ticket? There’s no need to give up sweepstakes altogether. Here’s what you should you know to avoid a prize scam:

You shouldn’t have to pay

Legitimate sweepstakes won’t make you pay money or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning. That includes paying "taxes" or "shipping and handling charges" to claim a prize.

The prizes aren’t so great

If you do pay to redeem a prize, you’ll find it isn’t worth much or the "vacation" is anything but luxurious. You may end up paying far more than the prize is worth, if you get a prize at all.

Many prize promoters sell the information they collect to advertisers

When you sign up for a contest or drawing at a store, a mall, or another public place or event, instead of a prize, you could get more promotions in the mail, more telemarketing calls, and more spam email. So even if it takes a magnifying glass, read the fine print. That’s often where promoters hide the details about their business practices.

Read Prize Offers for more.

Tagged with: prize, scam, sweepstakes
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Received a phone call today from a David Patterson with a number that said Hawaii, Number 808-861-2449 plus one from a restricted number, saying I was the Publisher Clearing House 2nd place winner of 2.5 Million and a new car. My new car was on the back of a flat bed truck 30 miles away. Just needed to go to Western Union and get $500 money order to give them. I would get my money back right away. What’s funny is the first phone call I received I was at a gas station and had two police officers in the car next to me. I should of had them listen to the call.

I wish I could win money for the future of children, I don't work and HIV positive

I got a call from a guy named Michael Brown. He said I won money and a car. $200,000 and a Mercedes Benz c class. Is this a scam? The phone number he gave was 1 876 880 3589. He told me to get a claims receipt from Wal-Mart in flagstaff az and I'm to meet with a cop a lawyer and a irs agent in the parking lot as well as a truck with a flat bed and a ups truck. Is this a scam? Its my first call and I'm not sure how to take this. But then the phone cut off and I never heard the rest of it. He never asked for money either.

Just received scam call from 516-495-6286 that began with automated voice saying "Emergency and immediate action needed; you have four charges filed against you with the IRS"...scared the crap out of me but as I listened on it was obvious the script was either

1) NOT written by someone whose first language was US English (as verbs were in the wrong order in the sentences which is a common mistake of people whose first language is NOT US English)
2) not originally written in English - ie, written in Russian or Chinese, etc and translated with a cheap translation app to English or
3) the person who wrote the script is an idiot. Anyway the phone number from which the call came is registered to "John Berry"...his name is referenced in multiple of the complaints above.


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