Sweepstakes Fraud Factsheet

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What if you are a victim? 


A Case Study

Sample Envelopes

Sample Letters

A New Twist - Here's a Check

The Prize You Win

The Canadian connection

The Swiss Connection

The Psychic Connection

What can victims do?

Known Scammers

Additional Links

The Bottom Line

The sad fact is, very few victims of sweepstakes fraud ever recover their money.  The modern age of electronic communications allows these cockroaches to hide themselves anywhere.  However, there are some steps you can take which may help.  Please visit the "Additional Links" page for more information.

Even if you have lost no money but are receiving these solicitations:

  1. Complain to the U.S. Postal Service. If you don't complain, nothing will happen.  84,000 complaints of this nature were received last year, which is a drop in the bucket compared to how many pieces of mail are sent out.  Complaint forms are available at your post office.

If you have lost a small amount of money, add these steps:

If you've already sent off your "processing fee" or whatever they call it, and you find yourself with nothing to show for your investment, at the very least do the following things:

  1. Write the company requesting your money back.  You may get it, you may not, but it's worth the try.
  2. Notify the Better Business Bureau in your area and file a complaint.
  3. Tell everyone who will listen what has happened to you. You may help someone else avoid the same scam, or worse.

If you have been defrauded of a large amount of money, add these steps:

  1. Notify the police at once. This is your best weapon to help stop the ongoing problem.  You may not get your own money back, but the chances increase that the fraudsters will be caught and put in jail where they belong.
  2. Contact the Attorney General in your state.  If you know the scammers are outside your country, notify the FBI.  Usually the feds won't get involved unless the amount is over $100,000, but notify them anyway so they know what is going on.
  3. If you lost money via a wire transfer, contact your bank.  The chances are slim, but they may be able to reverse the transfer before it is finalized.

Family members, consider the following actions:

  1. Have the victim's telephone number changed to an unlisted number, and have a trusted friend or relative distribute the number to contacts that the individual desires.
  2. Have the victim's checking account changed to a two-signature account, to prevent spur-of-the-moment purchases or withdrawals.
  3. Cancel the victim's credit cards or reduce the credit limit to a manageable level, like $500.00