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The FTC didn’t send that sweepstakes letter

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Here’s a scam with an FTC angle. The letter has an official-looking FTC seal and is signed by “FTC Director” Jessica Rich. It says someone at the FTC will help you claim a cash prize you’ve won, and will help ensure delivery. That is, after you pay off the more than $5,000 “Legal Registration Bond.”

The language might sound legal, and the letter might look legit. You might look up Jessica Rich and see she’s an actual FTC official. But the truth is, there’s nothing legal or official about it. It’s a fake letter designed to convince you to send money for a non-existent prize. 

Here are the facts:

  • The FTC doesn’t oversee sweepstakes.
  • No federal government agency will contact you to ask for money so you can claim a prize.
  • If you enter and win a legitimate sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay insurance, taxes, or shipping charges to collect your prize. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize.

Read Prize Scams for more signs you’re dealing with a scam.

Impersonating the FTC isn’t limited to sweepstakes scams, as we’ve written about recently here and here. Read Government Imposter Scams to learn more about spotting imposters.


This 'prize' was supposedly from "Facebook".

The last 'captcha' was DIFFICULT TO SEE.

By the way -- the most recent phishing phone calls I've gotten (the "your computer is infected" variety) have worked around caller ID blocking either by swiping someone else's caller ID or by setting the ID to just the name of a state, or a city/state combination. Easy for a human to reject, harder for a filter. I say again: We MUST get caller ID locked down more tightly, whether the phone companies like that idea or not.

I got a letter saying I won a big sweepstakes. A month or do ago.I got calls several timed a day . I played along trying to find somewhere to forward it .yesterday I just had my fill and told them how I felt.but I never found anywhere to report it.

If you see a scheme that involves the U.S. mail, submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You also can alert your state Attorney General.

I RECIEVE SO MANY THESE LETTER,Winning money or will that some one left and stamp seal on it, everyday same letter with different name on the letter.

Thanks, we are reminded to be skeptical of everything.Never trust any mail or emails.

hopefully you folks shut them down?

Who can I talk to

You can file a consumer complaint with the FTC online, or by calling 1-888-FTC-HELP.

we are constantly bothered by people with a foriengn accent telling us we won Ten Milliondollars all we have to do is go to walmart ...

I just got that same phone call saying I won $950,000 from PCH. I just needed to go to the service dept. at Walmart to register the prize with the FTC & IRS. It didn't sound right. I ended up hang ing up on them.

Ihave been in volved in a scam (I thought was legit!), for over a month now. I've "lost" darn near everything to this bunch. I involved our sheriff's dept about the 3rd week in, gave them a bunch of the money grams and WU slips and asked them to check it out for me. Two weeks later I called them back to see what they found out, and was told "they hadn't gotten around to it yet"!! I have lost most of our life savings and still no answer from the police.I just called them again and asked them to give me all the receipts back, as someone else is going to investigate. We have enough to live on, but most of our bounce back money was used.

hello,Im sorry to hear your situation. my elderly mother has been doing this for years and the last couple of yrs its really bad. thousands of dollars of their savings is gone and down to nearly nothing. She still wont believe anyone doctors, professionals,I called our local police dept. for help and to at least come talk to her. Because yall are victims of elderly fraud. They said they didnt have anyone available to do this.And I said I am talking to the victims unit? They said sorry. I just wanted an officer to come to her in official capacity and maybe she would believe they are scams. She wont read all the stuff I have printed up about all the scams she is giving money to. She averages about 5-6 letters a day. bags of this stuff is around her house. I have changed their ph number, my dad has changed the checking account 3 times. So, I dont dont too who to get help from. If the law wont help, what can you do? I am sorry for your loss too.

I receive letters of me winning huge amounts of money and a car,the letter looks legal and it ask for my bank details and signature of which I provided and posted the letter back to the sender,didn't know that it was a scam ,what should I do ?

If you think you’ve been targeted by a prize scam, report it to the FTC.

You also can contact your:

If the prize promotion came in the mail, report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Just received a call from 2 telephone numbers: 1-876-455-9139 and 876-887-0898. They were happy to inform me of the fact that I had won $2,500,000.00 and a new Mercedes automobile from Publishers Clearing House. Both of the parties I spoke with had a very strong accent. They also said that an attorney named 'Mary Smith' would come by my house and give me the good news. When I put each of these phone numbers in the search engine online, the phones turned out to be registered in Jamaica as mobile phones. Each time I let them know I had discovered their location, I suddenly lost contact. Go figure! They even had the nerve at one point to say they were located in Jamaica, New York instead of Port Washington as they first stated.

Wohh precisely what I was looking for, appreciate it for putting up. Be nice to everyone on your way to the top because you pass them all on the way down. by Fred

I got a call from someone who identified himself as MATT PETERSON from the Federal Consumer Affairs Division, phone number (202) 407-7248. He stated he was in the Bureau's Cancellation Department and I was in jeopardy of losing a sweepstakes winning of $585,000.00 if I didn't contact the folks at Seaside Sweepstakes, phone number (305) 515-8861, before 4:00 PM EST. The caller had my name, address and home telephone number. I was spooked by the amount of information he had, so I listened carefully to his complete pitch. I am on the West Coast, and the call came in at 12:05 PM PST, which was 3:05 EST. Before I called Seaside Sweepstakes, I contacted the FTC Consumer Protection Office at (877) 382-4357. After verifying the call was a scam, I called Seaside Sweepstakes from my cell phone (not my house phone). After several rings a male voice answered. I told him I had received a call from someone named Matt Peterson, etc., and he asked for my first and last name. I stated my name quickly (my last name is difficult to spell) and he said he'd look to see if I had a file. He returned after a short period, and stated my first and last name, and my address. He went on to state that I had won the second place sweepstakes for $585K, but that I needed to PAY a 1% FEDERAL REGISTRATION FEE of $5,850.00!!! When I told him I wasn't capable of paying the FEE, he said he'd connect me with a SECURITY JUDICIAL OFFICER and they would assume 75 - 80 % of the FEE. When I said I couldn't even afford that, he hung up. Note to self: "If it sounds too good to be true, it's probably a scam!"

the two of us has lost about $4000 to these people over the last 6 months. Different ones would call and say the other people we talked to were not very nice people and that they would help us. But they were the same people. I even told them that I thought they just past our number around and took bets as to who of them could get us to take the bait again and up until last month we did. Now I get a phone call at 11pm and the man named William snider who called from LasVagas said I had to call him back Tuesday with my E-mail and Cell phone# so he could always reach me while he is trying to get our25million dollars in a certified check and$250,000 in cash and a new BMW SUV S-6 His phone #I 702-583-6317. I know he is scammer and so should everyone else. phone blocking doesn't help with these type of guys, they always find away to get to you.

It's possible that the scammers are sharing your names among themselves.

You can help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies by reporting this. Please call 1-877-382-4357 to talk to an FTC call center person and make a report. Thank you.

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