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How to Spot the Latest Scam That Claims You ‘Won the Sweepstakes’


If you’re anything like us, it can be hard to spot when a scam is likely. After all, a lot of scams are really sneaky and surprise you when you least expect it. Also, some of them seem so darn real; the most recent example being impostors claiming to be part of a government agency and calling to inform people they’ve won huge sweepstakes from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a well-known charity for sick children.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans nationwide to be aware of these scammers who say the “winners” must first pay thousands of dollars to cover taxes or insurance, hoping that they will fall for their trick and send in money to them. To add insult to injury, the scammers often claim to be from the FTC themselves.

“The FTC doesn’t oversee sweepstakes, and no FTC staff is involved in giving out sweepstakes prizes,” said the agency. “We do, however, go after sweepstakes scams like this one.”

Worse yet, these scammers may be calling from a 202 area code (in Washington, D.C., where the FTC headquarters are located) to make the fake call even more convincing to unsuspecting folks on the other line.

“This is just a scheme using the well-known names of Make-A-Wish and the FTC to rob thousands of dollars from people,” said the FTC. “Once you wire money or send banking information, you will never see your money again.”

Yikes! Luckily for all of us, the FTC has outlined a few tips to remember to protect yourself from scammers. Don’t let yourself become their next victim.

It’s likely a scam…

  • When someone asks you to wire money over the phone.

  • When someone requests your bank account information over the phone.

  • When someone claims you have to pay in order to get your prize.

  • When someone claims to be from the Federal Trade Commission, saying you won a prize.

h/t AARP

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