Sweepstakes Heartbreak

October 30, 2017

BBB Helps Grand Rapids Woman Stop Sending Checks to Sweepstakes, and Encourages West Michigan Residents to Protect Vulnerable Adults Who May be Draining Their Checking Accounts. 

Grand Rapids, MI - BBB counsels thousands of consumers a year about various scams, and how to avoid being taken advantage of. In BBB's experience, there are many people who want to believe they are going to win, or that they have the opportunity to buy things at pennies on the dollar. Once these people fall prey to the scams, or the business opportunities of one offer, soon they get dozens or hundreds more opportunities encouraging them to respond the same way they did the first time.

A Grand Rapids resident, hooked on entering sweepstakes and prize promotions, reached out to the BBB for guidance. She has been sending out checks, lots of them, in hopes of cash prizes from companies that take advantage of the human need to win.  

Next Gen Inc, is a Kansas based fulfillment company with an F Rating from the BBB.  Next Gen and its affiliated companies promise opportunities to win big money.  They send out mailings under the name "Award Notification Commission" offering the opportunity to participate in a cash prize drawing. Consumers often believe they have already won because the mailing is designed to create that impression. These mailings also give the impression that participants might increase their odds of winning by buying something. The mailing solicits the return of a notice to be a cash prize winner, and suggests enclosing payment of $11.89 to $12.99 for jewelry or a packet of information at the same time.  Of course, a purchase is not necessary and will not improve the odds of winning. BBB has received complaints on the merchandise sold by the company and from consumers who believed they had won a prize due to the firm's mailing. 

Other related companies include: S C S, Super Cash Sweepstakes, U S Awards Commission, Award Notification Commission, National Delivery Service, ANC, Judgement Headquarters of Administration. Fidelity United Group, International Award Services, Central Award Distribution, and GV Collection.

Opportunities Unlimited does extensive mailings inviting consumers to enter a contest by paying an entry fee. They explain that the games are not lotteries, but rather contests of skill. Each contest entered requires an entry fee. As the contest progresses, contestants may find they that the games become increasingly difficult to solve. Tiebreakers may be necessary to determine final winners. Entry fees cover the costs of operating the contests and paying the prize winners. BBB has received no complaints that the prize monies have not been awarded. The subject has been directed by its legal counsel to clearly explain to recipients their mathematical chances of winning prizes in each contest. A brochure explaining the company's contests, including precautions against being misled, is sent as a part of the subject's mailings. The subject has been responsive to any requests for service in handling consumer complaints sent to them by the BBB.  

Related companies include: CAP, International Award Payment Center, Award Processing Center, Contest America Publishers, Inc., Cash Connection, Opp Company, North American Award Center, Capital Reserve II, and NAAC.

BBB advises caution when dealing with any sweepstakes or contest offer, especially those that require the consumer to send money with the entry. 

REPORTING SCAMS: Use BBB's Scam Tracker to research and report scams that are affecting Michigan, and contact BBB with any questions, comments, or concerns you might have.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.