Sweepstakes scam targeting Texas families

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

Released by the Texas Attorney General's office:

AUSTIN, TX - Texans should be aware of a new telemarketing sweepstakes scam that is targeting Texas families. According to recent reports, scam artists are posing as Federal Trade Commission (FTC) employees in order to lead credence to the scam and tell Texans they have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in sweepstakes prizes. To receive the prize, call recipients are told they must pay several thousand dollars for insurance before they can receive a certified check for the prize.

The scammers make the initial contact by telephone and follow up with a letter featuring a fraudulent FTC logo that provides recipients with instructions for claiming their prize. The letter attempts to convince recipients that the FTC is contacting them because a sweepstakes company holding their prize was unable to locate them. In an effort to deceive letter recipients into believing the letters were legitimately sent by a federal agency, it lists a Washington, D.C. area phone number for customers to call. Calls to that phone number are re-directed to an unknown area, where the person on the other end of the phone then demands payment for insurance from the callers to collect their prize. In scams of this sort, the scammers' goal is to get the callers' "insurance" money.

Click here to see an example of the phony FTC letter and fake sweepstakes letter

The FTC never collects money from consumers and its employees have no involvement with delivering sweepstakes prizes. Additionally, Texans should be aware that they do not need to buy anything in order to enter a sweepstakes. In fact, it is illegal for companies holding sweepstakes to charge fees.

Texans who receive a call from someone claiming to be a representative of the Federal Trade Commission or any other government organization purportedly arranging for delivery of sweepstakes winnings should contact the Texas Attorney General's Office at (800) 252-8011 or the Federal Trade Commission at (877) FTC-HELP.