Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Warns Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams on Rise in Kentucky
Attorney General Jack Conway warns consumers that sweepstakes and lottery scams are on the rise in Kentucky. General Conway's Office of Consumer Protection receives several calls a day from consumers who have either received a notification that they have won a prize or who have wired money and are now victims of a sweepstakes or lottery-related scam.
"Consumers should disregard calls or notices from sweepstakes or lottery companies asking for upfront money," General Conway said. "Once you wire money, particularly to a destination out of state or out of the country, it is very difficult and often impossible to recover the funds. Consumers should remember the old adage 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'"
General Conway's Office of Consumer Protection has received complaints from a number of consumers who have lost thousands of dollars to these types of scams. A Taylorsville woman reported that she wired $1,500 to American Publisher's Clearing House to pay taxes on her winnings, and a Somerset caller reported losing nearly $9,500 to what appeared to be a Las Vegas-based sweepstakes company, only to be bombarded with requests for more money.
Many of these bogus sweepstakes and lotteries send counterfeit checks, which appear to be legitimate. Consumers are instructed by the scammers to deposit the money into their bank accounts and wire a portion of the amount to a foreign or out-of-state destination to pay various fees before their prize can be sent. When the check is returned as counterfeit, banks demand that the consumer return the money to cover the bogus check.
General Conway says Jamaica appears to be the hub for many of these types of sweepstakes and lottery scams. Consumers should also be leery of calls from an 876 area code, as many are from a bogus sweepstakes promoter.
"We are also warning consumers about calls from the Washington, D.C. area, or 202 area code, in which the caller claims to represent the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or another consumer protection government agency validating a sweepstakes entry," General Conway said. "There is no such government agency that performs this duty."
Foreign sweepstakes and lotteries are illegal, as are any promotions that ask for up-front money in order to claim your prize. If you had legitimately won a lottery, you would pay the taxes after receiving your winnings. Additionally, legitimate lotteries generally do not contact the winner; the winner contacts the lottery organization to verify any winnings from a purchased ticket.
Victims and consumers wishing to report bogus sweepstakes and lotteries can contact the Attorney General's office at 888-432-9257 or visit www.ag.ky.gov. Consumers can also report scams to the FTC at 877-382-4357, the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 (option 4). Bogus Internet sweepstakes should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.