FTC: Scammers Exploiting Our Name to Sell Phony Lottery Prizes

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers today that the following statement from a caller amounts to a scam using the agency’s good name:
“Hi, I’m calling from the Federal Trade Commission to tell you that you have won $250,000…”
If someone who claims to work for the FTC calls to inform you that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes, then it’s a scam.
Many consumers and their families have sent money and lost it before realizing and reporting that they were scammed, the agency said.
To receive the prize, the caller claims that all you have to do is pay the taxes and insurance.
The caller then asks you to wire money or send a check for an amount between $1,000 and $10,000.
Don’t send money or account information, and immediately report the incident to the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
The FTC is the nation’s venerable consumer protection agency, which now works on many matters in conjunction with the year-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, the FTC’s name is much more widely known.
The FTC investigates fraud and provides free information, but it never collects money directly from consumers.
“FTC employees don’t have any involvement with this sweepstakes scam, and they want you to avoid it,” the agency said in a statement.
Here are factors to consider about the elaborate scam:

  • The caller might suggest that the FTC is supervising the giveaway.
  • He or she might use the name of a real FTC employee.
  • Your Caller ID might display the Federal Trade Commission’s name or a Washington, D.C. area code.
  • Don’t be surprised if you receive repeated calls and follow-up faxes.

No matter how convincing the impersonation, never send money to claim a prize, the FTC said.

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