Bogus lottery sweepstakes promises big payout
Legitimate sweepstakes contests can pay off if you take the time to enter. But some scammers are promising a big pay off all in a ploy to get your personal information. In this Contact 13 consumer alert what you need to know if one hits your mailbox.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Legitimate sweepstakes contests can pay off if you take the time to enter. But some scammers are promising a big payoff all in a ploy to get your personal information.
"We've won cars and a Harley Davidson motorcycle and trip on The Love Boat," explained Bill Johnson.
Bill is an experienced sweepstakes winner. The 83-year-old is retired and often scopes out the latest contest. But lately, his mailbox is filling up with letters saying he's a winner for contests he never entered.
"They send me a thing that I won and they're going to send me a check but I have to send them a fee first," said Bill.
The most recent letter says Bill is a second prize winner of the European, African and USA consumer sweepstakes. They even sent him a check for $3,446 to cover part of the processing fee. Bill immediately questioned how authentic the check was since he's seen bogus checks in the past.
"Because of the first one that I took to the bank and tried to cash they said it was no good," said Bill.
So he decided to mail the check to Contact 13.
Bill gets so many of these sweepstakes offers in the mail he started responding to them. He send them back a card and after reading what it says it's no surprise he never hears back from them.
"My lawyer informed me this is a scam and a ripoff and to prove him and before he turns this matter over to the FBI he advises you to send a check before I send the fee," said Bill as he read the card.
Contact 13 called Wells Fargo who acquired Wachovia in 2011. They say the account tied to this check has been closed. When we called the numbers on the letter Bill got to talk with the "claims agent" they hung up on us.
"You have to be careful and don't send them anything," said Bill.
So here is the Contact 13 bottom line. It's easy to just throw those letters away but you can be proactive and report it to the United States Postal Inspection Service. That's what Bill did and that lottery scam is now in the National Fraud Complaint System. To learn how to do that, click here.
According to the Federal Trade Commission's website, if you play a foreign lottery through the mail you're violating federal law.