Local consumers are calling the Better Business Bureau to report a new sweepstakes scam in the North Alabama area. This time, scammers are calling claiming to be with a fictional institution by the name of the National Gaming Commission located in Washington, DC. The con artists are telling consumers they have won second place in a sweepstakes and will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the consumer is unavailable, a call back number of (202) 866-7090 ext. 1001 is provided. To claim the money, the consumer must cover the taxes on the winnings by sending the cash by mail.
If you receive a call resembling this one, requesting you to pay money to get money, hang up the phone immediately. The Better Business Bureau report on this company states that there has been no success in contacting this company by phone or mail. This company also operates under the following names: Federal Trade Gaming Commission, National Gaming Board and National Gaming Counsel.
To spot a prize scam, consider the following red flags:
• You must pay. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t make you pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning — that includes paying “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize. There’s also no reason to give someone your checking account number or credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion.
• You must wire money. You may be told to wire money to an agent of “Lloyd’s of London” or another well-known company — often in a foreign country — to “insure” delivery of the prize. Wiring money is like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. The same goes for sending a check or money order by overnight delivery, courier or putting money on a prepaid debit card.
• You’re required to deposit a check they’ve sent you. When you do, they’ll ask you to wire a portion of the money back. The check will turn out to be a fake, and you will owe the bank any money you withdrew.
• They claim they’re from the government or another organization name that sounds official. The FTC doesn’t oversee sweepstakes, and no federal government agency or legitimate sweepstakes company will contact you to ask for money so you can claim a prize. If you’re unsure, contact the real companies to find out the truth.
• You get a call out of the blue. Once you register your phone number for free at donotcall.gov, unwanted telemarketing calls should stop within 30 days. Unless the company falls under one of the exemptions, it shouldn’t be calling: it’s illegal.