Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Staff Council

Beware of Sweepstakes Swindles

Posted on December 17, 2012

Sweepstakes and lottery scams are a daily occurence for all of us, especially older Americans, who are specifically targeted - and most likely to fall victim. I was recently reminded of this when I deposited a check at my local bank that I won recently from a sweepstakes.

The Bank manager quietly brought me into his office and warned me of such scams. I was prepared with the letter from the Sponsor along with all necessary tax paperwork so show that I had indeed won a sweepstakes prize. After all, I have been through this before. Another reminder was when a foreign student showed a Dean paperwork stating that she had won a large cash prize. She was so amazed that she had won a lot of money. When he informed her it was a scam, she was disappointed.

Here's how these scams work: You receive a series of letters and emails notifying you that you're a winner. The problem is, you're requested to pay processing fees or expenses to receive your jackpot and to "prove" your identity by providing personal information prized by identity thieves.

Remember the following:

  • If you did not enter you did not win. Period.
  • You never have to pay anything upfront to redeem a legitmate prize. Not even $1.00.
  • If you receive a partial payment check for winning, it is a scam.
  • Foreign lotteries are not open to U.S. residents
  • Never provide personal information such as driver's license, passport number or social security number. I generally tell them to mail the information along with an affidavit, which usually ceases the calls and letters.

It is a scam if the fine print lacks ANY of the following information:

  • Start and end dates
  • Judging Date
  • Methods of entry, including judging criteria
  • Type of proof of purchase required
  • Description of prizes and approximate retail value
  • Legal disclaimers, and
  • Sponsor's Name and Address.

submitted by Judi Razee

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