Sweepstakes Scam Using BBB Name

June 15, 2010

The BBB of Metro NY has received information about a sweepstakes scam that is using the BBB’s name.

Consumers report receiving a letter indicating they have won a sweepstakes and a check with the BBB’s name on it. The letter instructs consumers to cash the check and wire a portion back to a “tax agent” in order to claim their winnings. Copies of the letter and check are below.

The BBB is not involved in any sweepstakes and has not issued any such checks to consumers. Consumers are advised not to cash the check and should never wire money to someone they do not know personally.

BBB offers the following tips on how to avoid lottery, sweepstakes, or other prize fraud:

  • Do not pay to collect your winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes or contests don't require up-front tax payments, or charge insurance, delivery or other fees to collect a prize.
  • Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Scammers pressure people to wire funds through money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash—but when the money's gone, there's very little chance of recovery. They may also ask for a check or money order sent by overnight delivery or courier.
  • Ask questions:
    • Are the names on the check, letter, and envelope different?
    • Are there misspellings throughout the letter?
    • Is the check being mailed from another country?
      • If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then be very wary, it’s probably a scam.
  • When in doubt, check it out with the BBB. Verify offers by checking with BBB before agreeing to anything.

Copies of the letter and check: