Shutting down a sweepstakes scam that sought out seniors

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.

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

Comments

Sounds like Publishers Clearing House.

I have been contacted about winning

It first started out as, you just missed winning a large prize (this was their first contact with me). I never entered officially but I was sucked in for almost 2 yrs. with promises of being THE BIG WINNER with time, date, my location where I lived, the florist address, etc. They say you don't have to buy anything. I still have correspondence that say different. "Now is the time to buy." I have spent thousands of dollars wanting for that big win. I needed it. A widow with no COLA, what other choice did I have. It cost me a big chunk of the insurance money from my husband's death benefit. Then I ge a check for $1 and no more correspondence and they moved on to the next victim. Shame on you. They were constantly changing the winning date also, giving the reason that you were part of another group chosen after the initial date of another big win. This is a blatant scam!

Don't reply to websites until you check them out with the better business bureau or the Kentucky State Police.

I fell for this a few times in the last few years , I feel embarrassed this could happen to me but when I just went to buy a home and could not because of my credit score I knew it not only could it did happen to me. I don't even know what to do and the stress is wow its the feeling of being had, But in a way that effects your entire prosperity. These crooks didn't allow me to have a fair chance at things financially in life now I'm still trying to figure out how to get the debts of other people out of my name they bought a house cars and who knows what more I'm dreading finding out soon. I feel very embarrassed I felt I should know better but every time they got me they did it at my worst moments I needed the false services they provided to steal my name, and money. a new one out there is a call you have won a grant by a group of indian ethnicities whom say you must pay to release the funds, DONT! I fell for that one too as well with cruses to vacations and even sweeps. good luck I hope you have better luck than me and it doesn't ruin your life financially like it did me. Mr embarrassed 1

Go to IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do when someone opens new accounts in your name or charges things on your accounts.

Please report the identity theft ftc.gov/complaint.

THIS IS VERY ENLIGHTENING I AM ON FACEBOOK AND SOMEWOMAN IS TELLING ME I WON SOME CONTEST FROM FACEBOOK LOTTERY I AM GOING TO BLOCK HER,I AM SO SICK OF THESE SCAMMERS. I SEE HER NAME ON FACEBOOK IS VENUS JEAN MCMULLEN THIS PICTURE IS A WHITE WOMAN I AM QUITE SURE THESE SCAMMERS ARE USING HER PICTURE AND SHE HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF IT...PLEASE LOGON FACEBOOK AND LOOK INTO THIS MATTER PLEASE

I receive 5-10 calls every week from scammers who offer to limit the interest rate on my credit card debt. Since I have NO debt, I just hang up the phone. If I don't recognize the phone number, or if the number is the same as previous ones, I don't answer. The caller NEVER leaves a message.

the bank inform you if you donot call now for free on 0048221180319 and 007907298090 your $50000 will be cancelled and transfer to another winner if this message received i call now but i do not clear me. so then what says me ? please help me? report for 0048221180319and 007907298090 i am winner by this phone number.
my full name: seid address:seidm *city* bati *state* amahara region *country* Ethiopia * my winner number is* 0910075970 *my local bank is* commericial bank of ethiopia *my account number* .and how to get my money and my chance?

Do not tell your bank account number to someone who says you won a prize. They can use that information to take money from your account. Do not send use a wire transfer or send a money card to anyone who says you won a prize. If you win a prize, you should not have to pay.

Thanks for the warning. I will be on the look out for This kind of scam. Thanks again SusieQ

I have gotten several of these over the years. What do I do if I get them. Do I send it to you? I'm so glad you have this site. Together one less scammer in the world. Thank you!

Please report the details about the mailings you got. Go to ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-888-FTC-HELP.

thank you

Thank you so much for the info.

I want to thank all involved in the investigation of any and all of the scams that are so in today's world. While I am quite computer literate, and I ask thousands upon thousands of questions if I feel something just quite not right, some do not and others haven't a clue about your site. Again thank you for all of your hard work.

When can we expect this mail to stop filling our mail boxes. I hate to think about how much money I've spent. Thank you for anything you can do.

If you lost money to a sweepstakes, prize, travel or other kind of scam, please file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

The FTC's complaint database is available to law enforcement agencies and the information you give could help an investigation.

Thank you for the help and maybe you can help catch scammers.

Unconscionable.

I have reported these scams hundreds of times to: spam@uce.gov. Surely, you have enough info to put these folks out of business. What do you actually do with these complaints?

Due to the volume of complaints we get, we can’t respond directly to each one. But please keep the complaints coming because the FTC and other law enforcement agencies analyze complaints to spot trends and to take legal action against wrongdoers.

Scam . Prize . Sweepstakes I got email from them a lot tell me wom 3 M that send e averything seal stamp tell me claim and donation 5% I'm do it give them all my ID To them I wait for a year get nothing I need help .. End I will foreword to spam@uce.gov pleas check ASAP

Thanks for the heads-up! I would neversend money to such an offer!

Hello Sir, I have received an email from RBI Mumbai, saying that I had won A Samsung Award some months back, I have made some payments as requested by the Bank.Now they have sent me another mail asking me to pay Rs.25000/-, but since I am bankrupt(No cash in hand, it is still kept pending.Will you kindly look into this and take some action so that I get the winning award of 85000 rupees into my account. I give an extract of an email received from the RBI,Mumbai. Yours sincerely, Ronald . ==============================

Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai - 400 001. Monday to Saturday: 8:30 am-6: 30pm {Processing time}. e-mail: rbi- Dear Valued Customer,Ronald Good evening to you sir,We the Management of the Reserve bank which to inform you that some problem has occur while transfer this funds,And this problem will be difficult to be completed. It's will take 3days to solve this problem.It's will actract the total amount of Rs:25,000/-. BEST REGARD. FOREIGN EXCHANGE DEPARTMENT. Helpline:+917045384340 RESERVE BANK OF INDIA. e-mail: Copyright© 2010-2015©Reserve Bank of India.All rights reserved.

to Reserve Hello sir, I am fully upset to hear about this. Dear sir, believe me that I do not have any cash in hand and since I am retired without pension nobody will be willing to give me any cash. My closest friend with great difficulty has given me some cash with the assurance of returning it to him on 20th May. However I will ask the Samsung diplomat Mr.Barin Hege to handle the situation. Yours sincerely,

Reserve Bank Of India May 19 (2 days ago) to me Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai - 400 001. Monday to Saturday: 8:30 am-6: 30pm {Processing time}. e-mail: Dear Valued Customer,Ronald Greeting's from the Reserve Bank Of India,This is to inform you that this amount need to be paid as quickly as possible.It's will be re-fundable back to you,we are going to use this amount to create an expansion in order for the transfer to be sucessful.So you are going to receive this amount of Rs:25,000/- back in your account. Please the quicker for you the better.

Ronald May 19 (2 days ago) to Reserve Hello Sir, I have already informed you about my position. I am a retired person without pension therefore no body is willing to give a loan to me.With much persuation one of my friends gave me some cash which I sent it to you. This amount was received with the promise to return it to him on the 20th instant. If I dont pay the amount borrowed they will not belive me in futr\ure. I therefore request you to transfer the amount as quickly as possible. Whatever amount is due to you I promise you to send it to you once the amount is in my account. If you fail to transfer this amount to my account, I am afraid I will loose the winning amount and also all the cash I have paid to you sofar.Once again requesting you to kindly do the needful and help me. I have spoken about this to Mr.Barin Hege, Diplomat of Samsung,who will contact you. Yours sincerely, Ronald .

Reserve Bank Of India May 20 (1 day ago) to me Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai - 400 001. Monday to Saturday: 8:30 am-6: 30pm {Processing time}. e-mail: Dear Valued Customer,Ronald Good Morning,We are very sorry to inform you sir,We have to follow the protocul of the bank.So talk to your uk office for assistance. Click here to Reply or Forward 8.95 GB (59%) of 15 GB used Manage Terms - Privacy Last account activity: in 23 hours Details Reserve Bank Of India Add to circles Show details

This has many signs of a scam. They say you won a prize, but then say you must pay them before you get the prize. They use an official-sounding name and refer to "protocol." You can learn more about Prize Scams in this FTC article.

You can file a complaint at ecommerce.gov, an effort by consumer protection agencies in 30 countries to gather and share complaints of scams across national borders.

Because you responded to this solicitation, you might get more offers. They might say you have won a prize. Or they might say they will help you claim your prize money. Don't give personal information or send any money to someone who calls and makes those promises.

The Federal Government is LAME at stopping this type of crime. How many of these creeps have done Jail Time????

This is unnecessary. At least there are people who spend their lives trying to help others avoid such things - even if the system has flaws, at least it's there. Don't like the way it works? Stop whining and make a non profit or another entity to help raise awareness, otherwise you're just another windbag with nothing useful for society.

Well said!

Is there a form that we can fill out as consumers to notify the FTC? I would like to include a link to this form on my website. Thanks!

The web address for filing a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is www.ftc.gov/complaint.

what is western union doing to stop these African countries from fraud.....I have received 20 emails from these jokers....they are obsessive

I want to copy and paste this on my Facebook page

You can copy the URL of the blog post and paste it into a Facebook status update to share it.  The URL for this post is www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/shutting-down-sweepstakes-scam-sought-out-seniors. You also can "like" the Federal Trade Commission on Facebook. We usually share our blog posts to our Facebook page.

Is it ever possible to play American lotto or USA Megamillions online, when you are in Africa cos there is a represantative from an organisation called "The Lotter" who called me and said they could help me to pick numbers..l only hesitated when the guy asked for my credit card details and hung up the fone..is it advisable to play online? What does USA legislation state about online lotto? How genuine is it for players in Africa?

U.S. law prohibits selling or buying lottery tickets by phone or mail across international borders. Read the FTC's article about International Lottery Scams for more. If you get a call from someone you don't know, don't give out your credit card or bank account numbers.

l enter sweepstates on diversey and western theater back in 2000 with american resort lnternational ltd. locatedad tramsan plaza suite 300 oakbrook terrace, lll.60181 for $60.000 l'm l been complainnig to city sate and federal gorenment for fifteen years and no one wants to hear me out event the circuit court of cook county after l work for them and got hurt on their time.

I jyst won $2.8 mil., a 2015 Mercedes, with allstate insurance & free Texaco gas for 3 months. It was Publishers Clearing House. I won because I was a valyed customer of Wal Mart and used my credit card there or my bank card. the phone number was a Massachusetts number that called but I was to call an 876 number and give them my confirmation number so they can bring the cashiers check and car to me. I called the FTC instead. The man "james monroe" called me back fron the 876 exchange which was from Jamica.
Don't fall for this...cause as tge saying goes 'If it sounds too good to be true then it really is too good to be true'.

Yesterday alone, my 78 y/o mother received 24 calls from scammers just like you have described. Unfortunately, I know if I were not here to explain how it was a scam to her many times over, she would be doling out money and personal info to them. The phone company says they can't do anything to help due to the scammers being able to switch phone numbers so easily. They are correct! These jerks call from multiple numbers usually 876 area codes but can also block caller ID. They've also called from California area codes and Nevada area codes. They have called, let it ring twice, hung up and called again from a different number. When that didn't get a response, they called again from a different number immediately afterwards. O.o

How does one stop this insanity? We no longer answer the phone.

One gets an unlisted phone number & gives it out ONLY to your doctors, friends, family, bank. Call blocking does not even work. In fact caller ID is useless for tracing these scammers, as I get robocalls & on my caller ID, the calling party lists MY NAME & TEL. NUMBER! How can you keep ahead of that??

This is erroneous information. We got them an unlisted number and the scammers were calling the NEW UNLISTED NUMBER within an hour. Phone company said they could not guarantee it would work that the scammers have tools to get around it.

we all no by now its a loosing battle. let alone the dnc the govt offers right after you register the calls start coming. the phone companies cleared a hurdle which allows them to give out peoples phone # for profit,sales no privacy at all so sad

My father in law died summer of '13. my mother early '14. All mail was delivered to our house. We were getting no fewer than 3 of these sweepstake envelopes per week asking for $20 to get up to $20 millions. My brother was told my mom she was getting a Mercedes. I am probating the estate, and there is no Mercedes! Please alert the elderly of this scam.It really angers me to find out they are targeted.

I work in the aging network. May I please copy and paste this article into a flyer to use for educating older adults (I'll include the link). I'm putting materials together for a table we're doing for June 15 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

Yes, you can copy and paste this article to share. That's a great idea! 

Then, go to ftc.gov/passiton where you can print and order material about identity theft, imposter scams, charity cons and health care scams.  The Pass It On campaign is designed for active older adults, and you're sure to find other material to share for WEEAD and beyond.

This information from the federal government is free to share, link to, copy and download.

Husband got a call today so they are still calling to try to hook seniors with a fraudulent claim for Publishers Clearing House. The call was from Jamicia, so they aren't shut down yet!

My father has become a victim of a scam. He won't believe that it is a scam and keeps sending money to Jamaica. He doesn't have much money and what he does have is going to the scammers and not to pay his day-to-day bills. Where can I get help???

You can call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 or call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 1-855-411-2372. Explain the situation. You might find a trusted family member, friend or clergy person to can talk with your father, or someone from your local law enforcement agency who specializes in fraud. You might want to talk with someone from the Area Agency on Aging in your county.

Can you tell me any thing about these Lower My Debt people? I went online and now am getting all types of calls wanting to help my with credit card debt.

If you gave personal information to an online payday loan site, even if you didn't get a loan, you might get calls and emails.

Selling personal and financial information is big business. People might buy your information and use it to try to sell you good and services, charge you things you didn’t agree to buy or try to commit identity theft.

 

Pages

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.