Losing by winning: contest and sweepstakes scams

you-win-1143113_1920Did you just win a luxurious vacation in a contest or $500,000 in a sweepstakes? It’s possible–many people dream of being the next big lottery or prizewinner in news. And after all, if it can happen to him or her, why not you?

So of course you’re very excited when someone calls to tell you that you’ve won, but beware: IT IS A PRIZE SCAM!

How do we know? Because of a big red flag: if you have to pay to claim it, it is not a prize.

Imagine you get a phone call from an imposter pretending to be a company representative. He says you’ve won a huge sum of money in sweepstakes or a car in a contest. However, the very next moment he asks you to wire or deposit some money before you can claim ‘YOUR’ prize. This is a scam.

Victims of this scam can suffer devastating consequences. In most scenarios, the targets of these scams are elderly citizens who can easily be intimidated with such news. To protect yourself from becoming the next victim of this fraud, it is important for you to learn how to distinguish between a scam and reality.

We have noticed an increase in contest and sweepstake scam calls. Yes, there are legitimate contest and sweepstakes prizes, but in most cases, these calls are phony.

Recently, people have lost thousands–even millions–of dollars to scammers. Here are some signs to help you avoid being a victim of prize scams:

  • The scammer will ask you to pay: In order to claim the prize, the scammer will ask you pay a fee before handing you the prize money. Keep in mind legitimate contests and sweepstakes don’t ask for any sort of fees or payments in return if you win. Recently, scammers have called these payments ‘processing fees’ or ‘’
  • The scammer will ask for your personal information: If a person on the phone tries to ask your personal information which includes checking account number, real name, date of birth, social security number or credit card number, don’t provide them with any detail. You wouldn’t want to win a contest by jeopardizing yourself.
  • The scammer will ask you to ‘wire’ the money: Some scammers ask you to wire a specified amount of money to a well-known company–in the home or foreign country. The wired money is to ‘insure’ your prize, but this is a lie! The catch with wiring money is once it’s successfully sent, you can’t track or recover it. After receiving payment, the scammer will simply take your money and disappear, leaving you waiting for a prize that will never come.
  • The scammer will ask you to deposit a check: A scammer will tell you over the phone that you will receive a check from their side, which you have to deposit in your account. After that, your next task will be to wire a portion of the money back to the scammer. The catch here is the check sent to you is FAKE and you will have to pay the money back to the bank.

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