Sweepstakes scam uses FTC Commissioner’s name in vain
A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a sweepstakes scam using the FTC’s name to get people to send money.
Now, there’s another sweepstakes-themed FTC imposter scam, and this one lays it on thick:
It starts with a letter from a lawyer in California. He says the FTC appointed him to notify you about a claim [spoiler: we didn’t], and includes a letter from FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright enlisting his help [spoiler: it’s fake].
The letter says you entered a sweepstakes and won $2.5 million, but you didn’t claim your prize, so it was forfeited. But thanks to an FTC investigation into sweepstakes companies, you have a chance to claim your $2.5 million prize.
Sure, you could claim it on your own. Or, you could do it the “cheaper, faster, and completely painless” way — hire the firm to help you. If you read the detailed retainer agreement he wants you to sign, you’ll see it will cost you thousands.
The whole story is made up. No prize. No FTC case. But it can be tricky to tell. The scammer includes actual FTC advice and throws in legal-sounding phrases. He really wants your money.
Some scammers tell pretty good lies, mixing in truth to make them stick. Here are some facts you can bank on:
- No FTC Commissioner or staff is involved in giving out sweepstakes prizes.
- The FTC doesn’t oversee sweepstakes. We do go after sweepstakes scams.
- No federal government agency will ask you for money to 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.
- If an FTC case has resulted in refunds, you can find the details at ftc.gov/redress.
Government Imposter Scams come in other varieties, too. Learn to spot them, whatever their story.