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Shutting down a sweepstakes scam that sought out seniors

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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 or 1-877-FTC-HELP. Your report makes a difference and could help make losers out of scam artists running bogus sweepstakes.

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


my mother in law got scammed last week by one of these Publisher Clearing house things... she got scammed out of $250... they have already reported the people to this site. is there any hope of her being able to get her money back?

If your mother in law sent money by wire transfer or by using a stored value card, it's not likely she will get it back. That's why scammers ask people to send money that way. It's like sending cash, and once its gone, it's gone. She can contact the company she used to send money and report what happened.

If she gave her credit card or bank account number to a scammer, she should contact her credit card company or bank and explained what happened. If a scammer has your account numbers, he can charge your accounts or withdraw money from your bank.

She can also file a complaint with the FTC at

I received a call 2 days ago on my Gov. Work phone from a guy telling me he was calling from the "Super Mega Millions Sweepstakes. After asking him to repeat that, I told him I already have 2 billion in the bank, and would he like a loan. Needless to say I could tell his jaw dropped. Then he basically would not talk any longer. If they can stretch the truth, so can I. They use a number dialer that will show the phone number is disconnected. Don't ever believe you've won anything.

That is one of THE best comebacks I've ever heard! Bravo & well done!

i am so gunna use that come back how funny that made my jaw drop for crin out loud hahahahah you rock dude hahahah talk about leaveing the person in a stupahfyed state of mind hahahahah i get a visual of there look on there face just thinking about it hahahha

I am first time to join the sweepstakes. I don't know how to do it ,I am scary about that is anything it problems to me?

Before you play a sweepstakes, read about problems you might have from prize scams.

For example, if someone tells you to pay before you can play a sweepstakes, or tells you to wire money to them, it's probably a scam, not a legitimate sweepstakes.

l been asked monies from lnterval travel lnternational to pay them some monies to become a member.

lwas scam by american resort lnternational,ltd.and oyester bay beach resort in oak brook lll 60181 walter kosch attorney and owner alain karr sales manager robert pioso,treasure also the leader from austria thomas,lupina of $60.000 for a timmeshare they refused to let me used it

Please report what happened so law enforcement has the information. Go to to file a complaint with the FTC. Blog comments don't go into the database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I was told I had won 5.5 million dollars from American Cash Reward. When I called to get the necessary FTC forms from the number they gave me, they told me it would cost about $1,000. I told them that did not seem legal. The guy said in the U.S.,anyone with an 800 number was registered with the Better Business Bureau. I had not mentioned an 800#. These guys are slick. They even answer FTCOffice.

Please report this to the FTC at Your report will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. Blog comments aren't added to the database.

You're right: if someone asks you to pay for a prize, that's a sign of a scam. You can learn more about Prize Scams in this FTC article.

Has anyone ever heard the classic rock song be Dire Straits: "Money for Nothing"? I cannot believe anyone would fall for any announcement that states you have won ($ or anything) from a contest, lottery, gift from Jesus, whatever, that you DID NOT enter. Furthermore, the same goes for contests, etc., in which you DO enter but have to pay $ to enter. How gullible have we as a nation become?

I often visit this blog to show customers examples of schemes and fraud. It would be nice if there was a "print" button to print a clean version of the article showing the web address.

l been scam by john merrigi and his wife schaun of $4,000 for dating sevices l never recieved not even a phone from any of thousands women they claim to match with thi conpany hasripped senios for many years and no no law erforment agency do't put them jail where they belong l even make a complaint with the police station in schaumburg but they never got in tough with me and aso with the government there but they bother eithher.

oyster bay beach resort has theirs hands in chicago they ripped seniors citicens all over the world and some one has to exposed them especially in chicago politics they getting away with millions of dollars here and since the law let them get away they will continued to keep ripping poeple off.

My 80 yr old mother gets at least 10 or more guaranteed winner letters EVERY day. I have to stop by every day and take them from her and explain they are scams. Its hard to get them all. What info do I need to give when calling about them. I know there are tons of scammers and catching them is hard. Its sad as they look so official to elderly folks and if they have nobody to help them, they send checks over and over

This FTC article explains how to stop some unsolicited mail and calls.  We have information about scams that affect older adults in the Pass It On campaign. You can read Pass It On information online, or order paper copies to give to your mother. FTC publications are free, and shipping is free too.

You can report scams to the FTC at or call 1-877-382-4357. Give as many details as you want about who sent the mail, and what they ask for. If the schemes involve 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.

thelotter. is a pure and clear scam - they have engaged in phishing activity worldwide and SELL your credit card details and personal information. Please be VERY VERY CAREFUL:

My father-in-law is a victim of a sweepstakes scam. Last week, he got a notice saying he'd won $2 mil from "Publisher's Clearing House" along with an initial "check" for $8615.72. He was given a number to call to "activate" the check and he was instructed to send $5600 (in cash, overnight) to an address in Nevada. When we went over for Easter dinner, he told us what he'd "won" and, sadly, we had to tell him he'd been victimized. (We did a Google-search of the address he sent the money to and it was a residence. The guy even called him again today! We've contacted the sheriff and every other agency I can think of to report this and try to catch the low-life who scammed them!

I too was scammed. My scam was to become a "mystery shopper" and the name of the scammer is Matthew Snodgrass. He is a liar and a thief. My "assignment" was to take the 2 checks he sent me ($5,000 total) cash them and then take my commission of $300 each and send the remainder vis MoneyGram t 3 people he indicated in the letter. Well of course the checks bounced and he has refused to reimburse me. Now my bank won't allow me to do anymore business with them and my husband is livid (can't blame him) Anyway, remember his hame ; Matthew Snodgrass. MATTHEW SNODGRASS. He needs to be in jail.

Allen Rogers from "Las Vegas" is scamming my mom right now. He's a minister that says he is working with the police and FBI so she will not be scammed. He only works with seniors and does not want to talk to their children, or want her to tell her friends and wants to help her surprise her family with the $2.5 million prize after she pays the $25,000 taxes. She got letters then phone calls about the Publishers Clearing House PCH prize. I think she has been hypnotized, as she is believing him over the advice and warnings from trusted church members, accountant, family, and bank fraud department people.

You could report this to local police and ask if an officer would talk to your mother about the imposter.

You can give details about the scammer to the the bank or wire transfer service your mother is using so they know the transactions are going to a scammer. Your local aging agency may have ideas about other local resources. This government website lists local aging resources.

You can also report to the FTC at Give as many details as you can. Those details help law enforcement investigations.

This sounds like my parent's scammer. 2.5 million, they have already sent him over $100K to get their "package". We have talked to them, the police, their doctors, friends, financial advisor, bank personnel and they refuse to believe it is a scam. We get one avenue shut down and the scammer tells them another avenue to follow. It is exhausting trying to police their every move. There has to be a way to put an end to this. We have contacted every possible agency that we can think of. We have durable power of attorney and it still is not enough. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Dont believe on their names that they give you. Anyone can pretend who is who, right?

receiving calls every day at 1030am prize control .press this and that # and help for medicare from Charlton, ma a male voice 508 980-7028 this is really annoying. most calls are campaign volunteers I found this lady on google her name,address,age and even on facebook how stupid I called her back and told her that I knew everything about her and she has not called back. thanks to google

ok here we go again this time the company name is paetec located at mass have no idea who they are I looked up google and found the info. another scam every day.

As to the targeting of seniors, please know that every county in the u.s. has an Area Agency on Aging, and within each such agency is some one who is responsible for Protective Services of vulnerable Seniors. Call the local Area On Aging if your senior is giving away money to one of these scams, in spite of being told not to do so.

You can use the ElderCare Locator to find your local Area Agency on Aging and connect to other services for old adults. You can call them at 1-800-677-1116.

I live in Virginia and yesterday I received a letter from Benxton Neo Security Inc of London notifying me that I have won $100K in their quarterly sweepstakes. Since I am a US resident and did not enter any UK sweepstakes, I just laughed and shredded the letter. I thought about calling just to play with them and make them think they were going to get something out of me, but I decided against it. Not only is it a waste of my time, but they will then have my phone number, which they would likely share with other unscrupulous scam artists. I just filed the complaint instead and posted the info here in the hopes that I can prevent others from falling victim to this. There is no such thing as something for nothing!

they are calling names and saying have you on camera MEGA MILLIONS new york

My father who is 72 is being scammed out of money for a "Suitcase full of money" scam, they are asking him to send money to get the combination for the suitcase and the millions of money inside will be his. My father has refused to listen to us and continues sending money, He is also involved a a "Facebook lotter " scam, where they told him he had to send $3,500 to pay for the taxes on it first, the person calling him claims to be Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook. I don't know what to do for him.


They sending a letter for prizes, with donations helping army, police, hospitals
Kids or healing families... but they sanding
Note for paying not increasing the chance of winning....


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