Consumer Fraud Scam Alert!
Scam 2: Fake Sweepstakes
Fake lotteries and sweepstakes promise mega cash but leave consumers holding the bag.
As happened to the Kentucky woman and Nebraska man, a letter arrives with the thrilling news that you've won a huge sum of money. Or you get an e-mail saying you've won a foreign lottery. You don't recall entering the contest, but the notice seems official. There's one catch: To claim the prize you have to send a check.
As of November 2008, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) had intercepted about $2.1 billion worth of fake U.S.-bound checks.
Hold on to your common sense -- you can't win a contest you didn't enter -- and remember a few basic facts: Lottery tickets can't be sold across national borders. If you win a cash prize, you'll be notified by certified mail. No one who wins a legitimate contest has to pay to collect. If you have doubts about a lottery mailing you've received, contact the USPIS at 877-876-2455 right away.
Turn 'em In
If you've gotten a fraudulent solicitation by mail, call the USPIS (877-876-2455). If a solicitation came online, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.