Guide to Sweepstakes

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The Better Business Bureau presents a guide to sweepstakes and foreign lottery scams.

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  • Along with the usual stack of bills, Sue Jones finds a letter with an unusual postmark. Its from a company named ILC, a name she doesn’t recognize. Sue decides to open it first.
  • Inside she finds a letter saying that she has won an international lottery sweepstakes. She can hardly believe her good luck, she won just when she really needed the money.
  • Her initial skepticism is reduced when she notices that ILC has included a cashiers check for $3500. It has a watermark and she recognizes the name of the bank.
  • Following the instructions in the letter Ms. Jones calls her claims agent. He is a very nice man named Charles who informs her that she is indeed a winner…all she needs to do to claim the rest of her $1 million USD is deposit the $3500 check the International Lottery Commission sent her and then sent back $2900 via Western Union to cover insurance fees. She can keep the other $600 as a show of good faith. Charles also tells Ms. Jones not to mention her good fortune to anyone else until she received the final payment. After all, she wouldn’t want the IRS to interfere with the processing, would she?
  • Sue checks her bank statement to see if the check has posted. The teller didn’t seem to notice anything amiss when she took the check to the bank two days ago. And the statement shows that the funds are part of her available balance.
  • After seeing her bank statement, Sue heads to Western Union to wire the insurance money to the International Lottery Commission. And makes plans for spending the extra $600 dollars she gets to keep.
  • Sue’s bank notifies her that the check was fraudulent and she owes them $3500, plus bank fees for non-sufficient funds.
  • Only spend the money if you are 100% sure the check will ultimately clear.
  • Guide to Sweepstakes

    1. 1. It’s your lucky day!
    2. 4. Sue: My claim number is 587456. I live at 4984 S. 1st Street. I got a letter about some sort of prize? ILC Representative: Congratulations Ms. Jones, you’re our big winner!!!
    3. 6. The money is on its way to Canada…
    4. 7. Three weeks later… <ul><li>She sees that check again… </li></ul>VOID Counterfeit
    5. 8. Sue didn’t know the difference between “Available Balance” and “Current Balance”. <ul><li>Banks are required to allow account holders access to their funds within 5 days or less, but it takes more time for a check to actually clear. </li></ul><ul><li>The Current Balance is the actual balance in your account on a specific day, and does not reflect any holds or pending transactions (transactions not yet posted). </li></ul>
    6. 9. <ul><li>WHAT TO KNOW: </li></ul><ul><li>It is illegal for American citizens to win foreign lotteries through the mail or email. </li></ul><ul><li>You should never have to pay an advanced fee to participate in a sweepstakes. Even if the organizers tell you its for taxes or insurance. </li></ul><ul><li>No matter how official these solicitations look or sound, they’re not real. </li></ul><ul><li>Lottery scammers often insist the money be wired to them. That makes it quicker for them to get it and harder to trace. </li></ul><ul><li>The only guarantee is that you’ll end up on more “sucker lists.” </li></ul><ul><li>Your chances of recovering money from foreign crooks may be even worse than of actually winning a lottery. </li></ul>
    7. 10. What to do if you receive a foreign lottery letter: 1. Turn over the mailing to the US Postal Inspection Service. 2. If it originates in Canada, you can contact the Phonebusters division of the Royal Canadian Mounties. Call toll free: 1-888-495-8501 Anytime you receive a questionable offer, you can contact your local BBB for information. Call 1-800-359-0979 or visit us on the web at www.evansville.bbb.org

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