BBB Warns of Sweepstakes Scam with D.C. Financial

March 30, 2015

Your local BBB is warning consumers about a sweepstakes scam involving fraudulent checks.

A Sebring, Ohio resident contacted the BBB serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia after receiving a letter from D.C. Financial claiming she had won $650,000 in a Canadian sweepstakes. The letter stated the resident would need to pay a non-residential tax and could use the enclosed check for $3,800. The letter first stated the tax was $3600, but later stated the tax was $2600. All the lucky winner needed to do was contact her claim agent, Edwin Gibson, prior to depositing the check in order to activate her claim. The letter also stated as part of security measures, the winner is strongly advised to keep the letter away from the public to avoid multiple claims. 

Upon further investigation, the BBB found the zip code used in the company's address of 5430 W Russell Rd. Las Vegas, NV 89230, does not exist and upon calling the two phone numbers given, the BBB received messages stating the numbers were not in service or assigned. BBB also contacted a local branch of the bank the check was drawn on and was affirmed the existing bank account has had several fraudulent checks deposited. 

"It's illegal to play a foreign lottery," said Frank Cilona, President of the Better Business Bureau. "Any letter or email from a lottery or sweepstakes that asks you to pay taxes, fees, shipping or insurance to claim your prize is a scam."

Your BBB offers the following tips for sweepstakes and lottery scams:

  • You can't win a contest you didn't enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you've been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.
  • Verify - but not by using a source scammers give you. Check if an offer is real, but don't call the phone number in the email or website you suspect may be a scam. If it is a con, chances are the person on the other line will be involved too.
  • Don't pay to claim your prize. You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. 
  • It is illegal to use the mail or telephone to play lotteries across borders. If you receive an e-mail, letter or phone call informing you that you have won a lottery, it is highly probable, it's a scam.

For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Kimberly Thompson at 330-454-9401. 

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