Sweepstakes Letters Offer No Return

January 09, 2013

When you’re living on a fixed income, the chance that you’ve been selected in a sweepstake can create a bit of excitement.

Joe, a Boise resident, says the letter from Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes Award, looked to be real. It stated that he was the rightful owner of a $920,000 grand prize. All he needed to do was contact Anthony Williams or Stacy Anderson.

“Contact our office and our representative will assist you with insurance fee, legal fee, and documentation fee as well as your taxes,” he says.

And to top it off, “Enclosed is a cheque” to help pay all fees.

Joe was alert if you win a sweepstakes you don’t have to pay anything. It’s a sweepstakes, but the tipoff was the Canadian spelling for “check.” The envelope was stamped "Canada" and the return address was from Hart & Associates, Surrey, British Columbia. The letter was signed David Williams, vice-president.

Joe folded up the letter and accompanying check and mailed it to BBB.

Better Business Bureau is warning residents about the sweepstakes scam. The letter bears a Reader’s Digest letterhead and a New York City address, and has a check for more than $9,000, supposedly issued by Tower Hill Insurance. Neither company is involved in the phony sweepstakes.

Reader’s Digest issued the statement saying, “the reputations of legitimate corporations whose names are being hijacked are also tarnished. Our own company, Reader’s Digest, has fallen victim to these thieves, as have other well-known firms.”

The phone number to call is 778-714-0498 is registered for British Columbia region.

When consumers call the telephone number, they are urged to deposit the check drafted on a Wachovia Bank account that is provided to aid in the mandatory payment of the insurance and administrative fees and send some money back. Tower Hill Insurance, in this instance, has issued a statement and is working diligently with national law enforcement to help solve these crimes.

BBB’s advice:

· Never wire money to someone you don’t know personally and trust completely. Once the money is wired, it’s gone.

· Don’t believe claims that you must pay the prize company for “taxes.” The IRS will contact you about any taxes due.

· If you have to pay to get a lotto/sweepstakes prize, don’t fall for it: it’s a scam!

Reader’s Digest encourages consumers who have fallen victim to file a report at www.fraud.org.