The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has obtained an injunction stopping an international sweepstakes scam based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that scammed more than 28 million dollars from unwary victims around the world in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and other countries. The scam begins with the victim receiving a personalized letter that informs the targeted victim that he or she has won a lottery guaranteed prize of around 2 million dollars. However, the victim is told that in order to receive the prize, he or she would have to send in a fee of anywhere between 20 and 30 dollars. To make the plea seem more urgent, the victims were told that they would forfeit their prize if they did not send in the fee within the next ten days.
Of course, as I have warned you about for years, there was no prize. It is hard to win a lottery that you enter. It is impossible to win one that you have not even entered. It is also important to remember that no legitimate lottery requires you to pay a fee to collect your prize. In this case, the companies charged by the FTC, Mail Tree, Inc.; Michael McKay Co.; Spin Mail Inc.; MCP Marketing Activities LLC; Romeria Global LLC; Supreme Media LLC, Vernier Holdings Inc.; Awards Research Consultant LLC; Mailpro Americas Corp.; Masterpiece Marketing LLC; Priority Information Exchange and individuals, Matthew Pisoni, Marcus Pradel, John Leon and Victor Ramirez in fine print on the back of the letters and in confusing language indicated that all they were really providing for the 20 or 30 dollar fee was a report about sweepstakes and lotteries available to the public.
Lottery and sweepstakes scams continue to be successful money makers for scammers. The best way to avoid a lottery scam is to remember that you don’t win lotteries and scams you don’t enter, no legitimate lottery requires you to pay a fee to collect your prize and no legitimate lottery requires you to pay them taxes due on your lottery winnings. Although income taxes are due on lottery winnings, they are never collected by the sponsors of the lotteries. The sponsor either deducts your taxes from your winnings or they give you the entire prize and you are responsible for the payment of the taxes.