Cuccinelli Warns Virginians of New Twist on Sweepstakes Scam - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Cuccinelli Warns Virginians of New Twist on Sweepstakes Scam

Posted: Updated:

Office of the Attorney General 
Press Release 

RICHMOND (July 1, 2013) - Today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli warned Virginians to be cautious of a sweepstakes fraud where the scammers are claiming to be from the "attorney general's office" to lend legitimacy to the scam. In recent reports, an individual calls victims, claiming to be an employee of the Virginia attorney general's office.  The caller provides the office's mailing address and telephone number for citizens to call to verify the validity of the sweepstakes notice they have received. 

"Scammers sometimes impersonate government officials to get you to send them money," said Cuccinelli.  "No government agency or legitimate sweepstakes company will contact you to ask for money. If you have to pay, there is no prize."

The scam works like most sweepstakes scams.  A mailing, with a realistic-looking check inside, is sent to notify the recipient that they have won a large sum of money.  To claim her winnings, the recipient is instructed to deposit the check and then send back a portion of the money to pay for taxes, fees, and other costs associated with claiming the winnings.  Those who deposit the check and send money, as directed by the scammer, soon find out that the check was not real and are forced to reimburse the bank for the funds.   

Cuccinelli urged all Virginians to protect themselves from these scammers and offers these tips:

  • Did you enter a sweepstakes? You can't win a prize in a sweepstakes you did not enter.
  • Do not pay to collect sweepstakes winnings. There is NO good reason why someone would give you a check or money order and ask you to send money back in return.
  • Legitimate sweepstakes do not require you to pay insurance, taxes, shipping and handling charges, or any kind of advance fee to collect your prize.  With legitimate sweepstakes, winners pay any taxes owed directly to the government.
  • Do not be pressured to wire money through commercial money transfer companies. Wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money is gone, there is very little chance of recovery.
  • Con artists use official-sounding names to make you trust them. It's illegal for any promoter to lie about an affiliation with, or an endorsement by, a government agency. No real government official will ask you to send money to collect a prize.
  • Phone numbers are easily disguised on caller ID. Some con artists disguise their area codes so they might look like they are calling from your local area, but they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Always attempt to verify the identity of any individual calling you who claims to represent a business or government agency. Do not give personal information such Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, or your home address in response to unsolicited telephone calls.

If you have questions about this scam, or if you feel you have been a victim of this scam, the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection telephone counselors are available to assist you. Please call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or 804-786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area. The Consumer Protection office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

When you call, be sure to include:

  • Date and time you received the alleged scam call
  • Name of the government agency the imposter used
  • Prize amount, amount requested in fees, and payment method
  • Phone number of the caller
  • Any other details from the call 

More about Attorney General Cuccinelli

Photos of the attorney general

A copy of this news release may be found on the attorney general's web site here.

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