Consumer - Sweepstakes/Fake Check scams


Consumers should be very suspicious about offers to:

  • Get paid to work at home;

  • Receive an “advance” on a sweepstakes you have supposedly won; or

  • Pay a fee or tax on the millions you are promised to soon receive from a bank account overseas.

These scammers practice their con every day, and can become exceptionally convincing. A major warning sign is if someone you do not know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire some of the money back.  Many mailings arrive with realistic-looking checks that are fake.  Even though your bank may initially cash such a check, when it is determined to be fake months later, you will owe the money to cover it. 

Tips to remember:

  • Do not pay to collect “sweepstakes winnings.” Legitimate sweepstakes do not require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes,” or “shipping and handling charges,” or any kind of advance fee to collect your prize.

  • Do not be pressured to wire money through commercial money transfer companies. Wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money is gone, there is very little chance of recovery.

  • Phone numbers are easily disguised. Some con artists disguise their area codes so they might look like they are calling from your local area, but they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

More Information:

For more information on fake check scams:
http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2009/june/auctionfraud_063009
http://www.fakechecks.org/preventionOverpayments.html

For more information on sweepstakes fraud:
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0199-prize-scams

Where to File a Complaint:

Sweepstakes/Lottery from a U.S. Company

You may file a complaint with our office.

You may also file a complaint with:

United States Postal Inspector's Office
Federal Trade Commission

(Although the FTC cannot resolve individual disputes, the information you provide may help indicate a pattern of possible law violations requiring action by the FTC or other law enforcement agency.)