SCARS™ Special Report: Prize & Sweepstakes Scams

Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Special Report: Prize & Sweepstakes ScamsSweepstakes Scams These scams involve someone claiming you won a prize. However, they say you must pay a fee or provide sensitive banking information in order to get it. They keep the money, and you get nothing for it.

You’ve just won $5,000! Or $5 million. Or maybe it’s a fabulous diamond ring, or luxury vacation? More likely, it’s a prize scamPrize Scam These scams involve someone claiming you won a prize. However, they say you must pay a fee or provide sensitive banking information in order to get it. They keep the money, and you get nothing for it., and you’ll find the prize isn’t worth much — if you get a prize at all. Here’s one way to think about it: if you have to pay, it’s not a prize.

About Contests and Prizes

Who doesn’t want to win something? But before you drop in a quick entry or follow instructions to claim a prize, here are a few things to know:

Legitimate Sweepstakes Are Free And By Chance

It’s illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter or increase your odds of winning.

Prize Promoters Might Sell Your Information To Advertisers

When you sign up for a contest or drawing, you probably will get more promotional mail, telemarketing calls, or spam email instead of a prize.

Prize Promoters Have To Tell You Certain Things

Telemarketers are legally required to tell you the odds of winning, the nature or value of the prizes, that entering is free, and the terms and conditions to redeem a prize. Sweepstakes mailings also must tell you that you don’t have to pay to participate. They also can’t claim that you’re a winner unless you’ve actually won a prize. And they’re not legally permitted to include fake checks that don’t clearly state they’re non-negotiable and have no cash value.

Signs of a Prize Scam

Plenty of contests are run by reputable marketers and non-profits. But every day, people lose thousands of dollars to prize scamsPrize Scams These scams involve someone claiming you won a prize. However, they say you must pay a fee or provide sensitive banking information in order to get it. They keep the money, and you get nothing for it.. Here are some signs you’re dealing with a scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.:

You Have To Pay

Legitimate sweepstakes don’t make you pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning — that includes paying “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize. There’s also no reason to give someone your checking account number or credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion.

A skills contest where you do things like solve problems or answer questions correctly can ask you to pay. But these contests also tend to get more difficult and expensive as you advance, leaving contestants with nothing to show for their money and effort.

You Have To Wire Money

You may be told to wire money to an agent of “Lloyd’s of London” or another well-known company — often in a foreign country — to “insure” delivery of the prize. Don’t do it. Wiring money is like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. The same goes for sending a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier, or putting money on a prepaid debit card.

You Have To Deposit A Check They’ve Sent To You

When you do, they’ll ask you to wire a portion of the money back. The check will turn out to be a fake, and you will owe the bank any money you withdrew.

You’Re Told They’re From The Government — Or Another Organization With A Name That Sounds Official

They might say they’re from an agency like the Federal Trade Commission and are informing you that you’ve won a federally supervised lottery or sweepstakes. Or they might use an official-sounding name like “the national consumer protection agency” or the non-existent “National Sweepstakes Bureau.” But they’re imposters. The FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov doesn’t oversee sweepstakes, and no federal government agency or legitimate sweepstakes company will contact you to ask for money so you can claim a prize.

Other scammers might pretend to be a company like Publishers Clearing House or Reader’s Digest, which run legitimate sweepstakes. Look for signs of a scam, but if you’re still unsure, contact the real companies to find out the truth.

Your “Notice” Was Mailed By Bulk Rate Postage

It’s not likely you’ve won a big prize if your notification was mailed by bulk rate. Other people got the same notice, too. Check the postmark on the envelope or postcard. Do you even remember entering? If not, odds are you didn’t.

You Have To Attend A Sales Meeting To Win

If you agree to attend, you’re likely to endure a high-pressure sales pitch. In fact, any pressure to “act now” before you miss out on a prize is a sign of a scam.

You Get A Call Out Of The Blue, Even Though You’re On The Do Not Call Registry

Once you register your phone number for free at donotcall.gov, unwanted telemarketing calls should stop within 30 days. Unless the company falls under one of the exemptions, it shouldn’t be calling: it’s illegal.

Foreign Lotteries

Sometimes a letter you get will say you’ve won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. Typically, the letter will include a check. This is a fake check scamFake Check Scam In this con, the victim deposits a phony check and then returns a portion by wire transfer to the scammer. The stories vary, but the victim is often told they are refunding an “accidental”  overpayment. Scammers count on the fact that banks make funds available within days of a deposit but can take weeks to detect a fake check.. Or a letter will say they’re offering you a chance to enter a foreign lottery. The truth is that, even if your name was entered, it’s illegal to play a foreign lottery.

Text Message Prize Offers

You get a text message that says you’ve won a gift card or other free prize. When you go to the website and enter your personal information, you’ll also be asked to sign up for “trial offers” — offers that leave you with recurring monthly charges. Worse, the spammer could sell your information to identity thieves.

When you see a spam text offering a gift, gift card, or free service, report it to your carrier, then delete it. Don’t reply or click on any links; often, they install malwareMalware Short for "malicious software," this term means computer viruses and other types of programs that cybercriminals use to disrupt or access your computer, typically with the aim of gathering sensitive files and accounts. on your computer and take you to spoof sites that look real but are in business to steal your information.

Check Them Out

Scammers don’t obey the law. To avoid a scam, you have to do some research. If you’re not sure about a contest or promoter, try typing the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” You also might check it out with your state attorney general or local consumer protection office.

Keep in mind that many questionable prize promotion companies don’t stay in one place long enough to establish a track record, so if no complaints come up, it’s no guarantee that the offer is real.

 

TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Scam Victims, Prize Scams, Sweepstakes Scams, Win Money ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.

SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance Nonprofit Organization
Visit: www.AgainstScams.org
Contact Us: Contact@AgainstScams.org

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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
  3. Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. « www.IC3.gov »
  4. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on « www.Anyscam.com »

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.


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To learn more about SCARS visit « www.AgainstScams.org »

Please be sure to report all scammers
on « www.Anyscam.com »

 

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