Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dumb sneaky bastards in the UK: Global Sweepstakes scam

Update 6 (3/24/2009):
It looks like this scam is actively using the name "Global Sweepstakes Prize Inc." again, so I'll put the most important information here at the top:
Global Sweepstakes Prize is a scam. Do not give them any personal information, especially not your bank account number. Do not under any circumstances send them any money. If they sent you a check, it's fake. Read the full post and the comments for details on how the scam works and where you can report it.
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I got some interesting mail today. Mixed in with the usual bills and junk mail was an actual letter.


But it wasn't an ordinary letter. It was from the UK. It had a "Royal Mail" postmark and everything.



This was quite a puzzler, because as far as I know, the only people in the UK who know my name and address are Curmudgeonly Yours and IslaSkye, and I couldn't think of any reason they would send me a letter instead of just e-mailing me. Besides, the letter looked kind of strange to be personal. There was no return address, and the address was a printed label with my last name first. So if not Curmudgeonly and Isla, who could it be from?

Well, of course I opened it up, and much to my surprise, I found a letter saying that I had won $250,000. (Click the picture for a little bigger view.)



According to the letter, "Global Sweepstakes Prize Inc." enters "250,000 names from different International census databases worldwide including North America," and their "network server" indicated that I was selected as a prize winner.

Now, there are a couple of things just in that first paragraph that are silly if you think about it. First of all, what kind of sweepstakes goes around selecting random people as winners? Where would the money come from? There are only two ways to pay for a sweepstakes: either from people buying tickets, as in a lottery, or through product advertising and sales, as in the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes in the USA. Second, why would a "network server" choose the prize winner? Network servers run networks (duh). They don't generally choose prize winners. I guess it was supposed to sound "technical" or something. But wait, it gets better.

The second paragraph tells me what my "lucky numbers" were. Of course, this begs the question of why I needed "numbers" if they were using my name from a database. Why not just use my name, or assign it a number between 1 and 250000? But at least they avoid coming right out and asking for a fee. In fact, they say I'm "guaranteed" payment at "no extra cost to [my]self" (emphasis theirs). This is a lie, of course. Once you respond to them, there will be obstacles, red tape, fees, taxes, just a little more that needs to be paid and then the $250,000 is yours. [Note: see the updates and comments below for the actual mechanism of the scam.]

The third paragraph really kicks things into gear. They "would like to explain to [me] the Federal and International regulations governing the personal collection of cash prizes." Gosh, that sounds official. I'd better do exactly what they say. But speaking of "regulations," apparently the UK only has two legal lotteries (neither named "Global Sweepstakes Prize" -- go figure) and it's illegal to play foreign lotteries from the USA anyway. I guess I was supposed to take their word and not look up that kind of stuff on teh interwebs. Anyway, they set up the foolish to be badgered for fees and taxes by referring to an apparently non-existent law, the "United Kingdom Non Resident Tax Act 2003" (section 22).

The fourth paragraph is even better, though. This is classic: "For security purpose and clarity, we strongly advise that you keep your winning information confidential until your claims have been fully processed and your money remitted to you." In other words, "Don't tell anyone we're robbing you until after we've finished." And they shamelessly go on to say, "This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claims and unwarranted abuse of this program by some nominees" (my emphasis this time). Because talking about the "program" makes it more likely that the "nominee" will report the sneaky bastards to the authorities. "Bloody cheek" I believe one might say in the UK.

The letter's ending is the best of all. It refers the nominee to contact an "Anthony Wright." But the letter is signed by "Clara Clayson." And take a look at the signature:



I can't tell what the heck that's supposed to say -- it looks like "Cethi Beraley" or something -- but I can tell you one thing it doesn't say: "Clara Clayson." It's obviously scanned in and has no relation to the name under it. And what the heck is that a picture of?

So that's the cover letter. There was also a form to fill out (click the picture for a bigger view):



Fill it out, and they have your complete contact information, your bank account number, and even the contact information for your "next of kin," so they can harass them for money too. Unbelievable. But apparently there are actually people who know no better than to fall for this whole thing.

UPDATE:
I followed this up with another post, but it doesn't look like many people are finding it, so I'm moving the text here:

I've been getting a lot of hits from people googling "Global Sweepstakes Prize Inc.," so let's make this perfectly clear: Global Sweepstakes Prize is a scam. Do not give them any personal information, especially not your bank account number. Do not under any circumstances send them any money.

Apparently, the way the scam works is, if you contact them, they will send you a phony "cashier's check" for $2,500. They will tell you to deposit it and then wire $2,500 to a "tax officer." But the check is fake, and of course the "tax officer" is not a real tax officer. The idea is to get you to send money before the bank can process the check and find out it's phony. So if you send the money, not only will you have wasted $2,500 of your own money, you will have passed a bogus check to your bank (which won't immediately know it's not intentional and might even call the police on you).

Here are some tips on how to recognize scams or fraud.

Here are some places you can report this attempted fraud.

UPDATE 2:
This scam is apparently also going out under the name "Skye Sweepstakes." Here are some other common lottery scam names.

UPDATE 3:
Here's a scan of the "Skye Sweepstakes" letter that a visitor e-mailed me. It's higher-pressure than the "Global Sweepstakes" letter that I got, because it claims that time is running out and "your file will be closed" if you don't respond in 14 days. Click for a bigger view.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

UPDATE 4:
Apparently, the Skye Sweepstakes scammers are sending out phony cashier's checks in some of these mailings, without waiting to be contacted first. According to a Treasury Department bulletin, the fake checks use the name of Hiawatha National Bank, a legitimate bank in Wisconsin.
The bulletin lists some places you can report this attempted fraud:

Consumers who receive a counterfeit item and associated material should file complaints with the following agencies, as appropriate:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP or, for filing a complaint electronically, via the FTC’s Internet site at www.ftc.gov.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Canadian Scams): by telephone at 1-888-495-8501 or via e-mail at [info@phonebusters.com]. Their Web site, www.phonebusters.com, provides additional contact numbers.

Better Business Bureau – The BBB system serves markets throughout Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States, and is the marketplace leader in advancing trust between businesses and consumers. The international Web site (www.bbb.org) offers contact information for local BBBs, objective reports on more than two million businesses, consumer scam alerts, and tips on a wide variety of topics that help consumers find trustworthy businesses and make wise purchasing decisions.

If correspondence is received via the U.S. Postal Service, file an on-line mail fraud complaint form with [the United States Postal Inspection Service or contact them by by phone at 1-877-876-2455 or snail mail at CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS SERVICE CENTER, ATTN: MAIL FRAUD, 222 S. RIVERSIDE PLAZA STE 1250, CHICAGO IL 60606-6100]

Additional information concerning this matter that you believe should be brought to the attention of the OCC may be forwarded to:

E-mail: occalertresponses@occ.treas.gov
Mail: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Special Supervision Division, MS 6-4
250 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20219
Fax: (202) 874-5214
Internet: http://www.occ.treas.gov

For additional information on this and other types of financial fraud, please visit OCC’s anti-fraud resource at: http://www.occ.treas.gov/fraudresources.htm.


Update 5:
A recent new name: ukeuro onlinelottery promo (UK Euro Online Lottery Promo)

Update 6:
See the top of the page

Update 7: (1/15/2011)
More fraud resources

51 comments:

  1. Not only did I receive that very letter, but the ref # and the winning # were EXACTLY the same as the letter posted here. Not only are these people scam artists, but they are pretty, damn lazy scam artists at that. I'll admit I initially fell for this scam and contacted Anthony Wright. Two days later, a check for $2,500 appeared and I was instructed to cash the check and Western Union the money to a tax officer. I'll admit that this sounded suspicious. I mean, why not just deduct the money from the $250,000? Furthermore, for a lump sum winning of $250,000 its seems strange that the taxes would only come to $2,500. For the record, to Western Union $2,500 to the United Kingdom costs about $150, which, thankfully, prevented me from doing it. If you do receive this letter, do not waste so much as two minutes of your time on it. Either report it or shred it, but don't contact Anthony Wright, unless you are contacting him to tell him to go fuck himself.

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  2. Yeah, the check is fake. The idea is that you deposit it in your bank and then pay them the $2,500 before the bank processes it and finds out it's bogus. Then not only will you have sent them $2,500 of your own money, your bank will probably think you purposely tried to cash a phony check and contact the police to have you arrested.

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  3. I received the letter, and while it looked suspicious and seemed likely to be a scam I thought I'd at least check it out, so I googled "Global Sweepstake Prize" which brought me here, confirming that it was indeed a scam. That's the first step I usually take to try to verify something that looks suspicious. In any event, I wouldn't have given out any personal information to them, so I doubt it would've gone very far even if I had called them.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. I'm glad that this is helping people. Scumbags like the ones running this scam have been using the internet for years to rip people off. It's good to see that people can use the internet to find out the truth about these scams too.

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  6. My husband received the same letter only dated 14 June 2007. He was going to call, but I Googled it first. If it sounds too good to be true . . .
    Thanks for the info
    Rhonda

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  7. I got the same letter! Only It says from "SKYE SWEEPSTAKES PRIZE INC. The layout is identical. Signed by Clara Clayson. It seemed suspicious so I googled it before anything else and now I am affirmed this is a scam!

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  8. So...are these bandits going to get fined and jailed for this?! We're here in Hawaii getting this bogus letter. Talk about "international" these guys are "international" thieves and "international law" would have it that they should be flogged.

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  9. I received the same letter titled Skye Sweepstakes Prize inc. However, instead of Anthony Write, it states contact Steve Wright or Tina Evans. I love scams.

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  10. WhoisSKYESWEEPSTAKEPRIZEINC? Addressis 3BakerRoad,KingsCross,London,W7 9DP
    Names on Letter are CLARA CLAYSON,STEVE WRIGHT and TINA EVANS
    Give me something to talk about/Hawaii

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  11. Hawaii Anonymous,

    They're criminals. Other than that there's no easy way to know who they are. They're not likely to be at that address, and the phone and fax numbers are probably virtual numbers that use the internet.

    The only way to catch them would be to work some kind of sting with UK law enforcement (assuming that they're even in that country), e.g., actually wire them some money and have the police grab them when they pick it up or something.

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  12. I got this same letter today. 19 JULY 07. Reeking of ripoff! No shit it's international? Glad you have this website. My suspicions were warranted. Reporting this scam to the USPS.
    Oh, and by the way, Steve Wright, you probably sound like Anthony Wright over the phone, and Clara is probably same as Tina Evans too.
    Oh yeah, they were so lazy, they didn't enclose the form for the additional info.
    Dumb stupid...oh puhleez, don't even take me there!

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  13. I got the same letter while on vacation...I knew it was a hoax!!!! Do they think us Yankees are stupid or somthin'???? We are waaaay to smart for them!!!Funny thing was it came in my other married name...I remarried 3 yrs ago...so this has to be off an old mailing or email list. I guess now they can't get us thru our emails anymore...so now these scammers are trying to get us with letters.I never got the form to fill out...just a number...and the prize money was $50,000. How stupid can they think we are!!! I feel sorry for the elderly...those people sometimes don't have a clue!!! Yeah...sure...send them my bank account number...so they can clean out my account. I Don't Think SO!!!Us Baby Boomers are waaaaaaaaaaaay to smart for them!!! I'm turning this letter over to the the Illinois State's Attorneys Office..and the USPS.

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  14. I'm happy to say that this is the first page that comes up when somebody searches for "Global Sweepstakes Prize Inc." or "Skye Sweepstakes Prize Inc."

    I've been getting 10 to 20 hits a day from people all over the country ever since I first posted this back on June 12, so that's hundreds of people who know for sure that it's a scam, thanks to the internet.

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  15. Apparently they are hitting Hawaii now; my Grandpa just got the Skye Sweepstakes version in the mail. He was about to call them until I stopped him. Your site was a great help in showing him how they operate, thanks a million.

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  16. The_Alaskan_Madman7/20/2007 5:27 PM

    My sister got this letter and I told her it was probaly a scam so I googled it and here I am. I looked at the letter sent and the lot # was the same on her letter except the letters SK were at the front of the number. America is loseing over 51 million a year to the 419 Nigerian Scam Ring alone. They get so many Americans because of Greed.

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  17. I found one of the same letter stating that my husband won 50,000 us dollars and it seems like a scam it does say on the letter the exact same thing and my intuition told me to google on-line and here I am with this bogus letter.. So stupid these people.

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  18. I just recieved the same exact letter with the letterhead saying:
    SKYE SWEEPSTAKES PRIZE INC. The Lot # is exactly the same as the letter that was posted but my prize winnings were suppose to be 50,000.00 Woohoo!!! Too bad they can't spell or use the same font throughtout the letter. If they addressed the letter to me why didn't they also say Dear------- instead of Dear sir/madam. And if I won 50,000.00 I would think something like that would be sent certified mail. Obviously the scum bags forgot that in the world of internet you can pretty much find out anything you want to know about someone or something. I guess there new target is HAWAII.
    Aloha from HAWAII

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  19. Thank you very much for this blog. A friend of mine asked me to check on Skye Sweepstakes, so I googled it and found you. It sounded like a scam, I just did not know the angle the scammers were using to get the money. Once again, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
    -Caution in Hawaii

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  20. SCAM "ANGEL SERVICES UK"
    This must be the same scam and same tactics with a new name.

    Tactics: Don't tell anyone, United Kingdom Non-Resident Tax Act 2003, Fake Cashiers Check

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  21. Another Hawaiian hit with the same BS, but they only offered me $50,000.00. Glad I Googled "Skye Sweepstakes.." and found your review of the scam. Aloha, D&S.

    P.S. I'm turning the letter in to my local post office to investigate for mail fraud.

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  22. another hawaiian smart enough to GOOGLE.7/27/2007 2:14 AM

    awww.... i guess that i didn't win $50000. but thanks for the post kuri, it seems like you are saving a lot of people their hard earned cash. does anyone know what we should all be doing to stop this fraud? do we contact the police, the news, post office, or who? i think that should be the next post. anyone out there got a clue?

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  23. they are all over the place then ,i just recieved one in kentucky...june 18th same everything as the skye sweepskakes form u have,,, but didnt get nuttin from me not even a phone call.. Thanks to you, oh and google,,

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  24. I just got the SKYE SWEEPSTAKES PRIZE INC. letter forwarded to me in Wichita from my old Hawaii address. I was delighted to able to confirm this as a scam right away thanks to your web site. Thanks.

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  25. "If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!" is something my Mom and Dad instilled in me as a youth.

    I received the letter and a "first check" made out for $2,780.00 and they sent me my "prize check" which is obviously a fake.

    The routing number is for a bank that is located outside of the city that the check supposedly came from.

    The bank that the routing number on the check belongs to is:
    Country Federal Credit Union
    which is located at
    602 South 6th Street
    Macclenny, FL 32063
    (904) 259-6702
    (904) 259-2666 FAX

    Bank that the check claims to belong to:

    Mid America Bank
    802 Ames
    P O Box 4
    Baldwin City, KS 66006

    Other variations are known to exist. I have done a lot of research on this and these people probably don't even think that they will get caught. They have phones that are using V.O.I.P. so they could be anywhere in the world and no one would be the wiser. Well these bastards need to be caught. Lets tell them just how stupid they really are for scamming people. These people are getting sloppy and are really deserving to be caught.

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  26. Just got it today - SKYE SWEEPSTAKES PRIZE INC, signed by Clara Clayson, no form to fill out though, just a UK cell phone number that they tried to make look like a real number - 01144 7847 126473. What a bunch. Thanks for the heads up folks, i cannot believe this came from the UK to me now living in the US!

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  27. Well, let me tell ya somethin.

    I am really ticked. My letter is the same as everyone elses. Steve, Tina and Clara with the weird signature.

    Same Lot number. My letter was dated July 25th, and it was the more terse version advising me that they have been trying to contact me since April 19th and that I have 14 days to reply, or else lose all that money.

    But here's the problem...

    My notification was for a mere $50,000 (not $250,000 like yours Kuri). I did not get a form to fill out, and I DIDN'T GET A PHONEY CAHIER'S CHECK!!

    Oh well. I guess some of us just don't rate.

    BTW. I filed a U.S. Postal Service Fraud Complaint.

    Thanks for your blog site. I like it.

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  28. I got this letter today. I was wondering what was up with it cause it used my parents address that I havent used in about 6 years. It also sound too good to be true. I taked to a few people and no one else had heard of it. I am glad I sat down at the computer and googled it. Thanks for all the good info!!

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  29. Midwestern Sharpie8/10/2007 6:15 PM

    I got it today (MN, USofA) under the "Skye" name. However, I Googled it only to see if it was a well-known fraud, or if I was perchance the first attempted "scamee" and needed to report it to the proper authorities. I did not need any electronic assistance to know with 100.0% certainty that it was indeed a scam; if the greeting had been "Dear Sucker, prepare to be scammed," it would not have made my determination any easier in the least. Which brings me to my question:

    Where do some of you people live where you're getting mail telling you that you've won $50,000+ dollars, and it *isn't* a scam? Where I come from, we don't win anything even if we *do* enter - and we sure as heck don't get cashiers' checks sent to us out of the blue that aren't 100% Grade-AAA USDA-Choice fake.

    So, as you can imagine, I'm more than a little confused by some of the posts here saying that they're glad they Googled first to see if it was a scam or not, and frankly stunned by the first poster who was only stopped from being suckered because he was short the $150 for Western Union. Did you guys *seriously* *believe* that you were about to be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars richer? If there was no Google, would you same folks now be out $2500 and trying to bail yourselves out of jail for passing fake checks?

    I'm trying to understand the psychology here, because for me, there was literally not even one millisecond where I did not believe that this was a scam. And before you all jump down my throat, no, I do not think I'm any smarter or savvier or whatever than the rest of you; I truly do not understand why I would know with every fiber of my being that someone's trying to scam me, while others are thinking "Sweet! I won a contest that I didn't even enter, and I only need to send them money, and then they'll send me even more money! It's win-win!!!"

    One of the anonymous Hawaiians asked, "does anyone know what we should all be doing to stop this fraud?" Yeah, I do: WISE UP. Tough love, I know, but the only reason such scams exist is that people actually fall for them.

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  30. Sharpie,

    I had no idea that this post would become a quick reference for people checking up on their own letters. I first put it up because I thought the whole thing was funny; the letter seems so incompetent to me (hence "dumb sneaky bastards"). But then, I've been on teh interwebs for around 15 years, so I've seen it all by now, and I'm a cynical bastard anyway.

    I think most of the people who visit here are already skeptical; that's why they're googling instead of just sending the money. Most of them are probably just making sure. I can't blame them for wishing the letter was for real when it involves life-changing amounts of money.

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  31. Aug. 13, 2007

    Another one in Hawaii here,

    Well it is too good to be true and I didn't even goole it I just typed in Skye Sweepstakes and it took me here to you kuri! Yay!

    Anyway I'm pissed because it was in my husband's name and right now he's stationed in a UK owned island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I was thinking oh boy it's something military and I better open it and then get in contact with my love.

    Bleh, as much as $50,000 would pay a LOT of bills I figured it for a scam and just wanted to know more about it.

    I am also glad that you have been kind enough to post contact numbers and such so that I can report this.

    Aloha!

    ReplyDelete
  32. That's one more for Minnesota.

    I'm sure everyone here knows it's a scam but they still want to check it out (wishful thinking?)

    At any rate, I knew (maybe it's a Minnesota thing) first because we NEVER win anything here.

    The fact that the letter is a photocopy and starts with "Dear Sir/Madam" rather than my name was also a hint. Next, if I won $50,000 why couldn't they take the "fee" out of that? Oh, they do. The "fee" is $52,500" right?

    Next, I figured, as I read this website, that I would Google it. There is no 3 Baker Road in Kings Cross, London.

    I was at least hoping for a check so i could frame it and hang it in my cubicle at work.

    ReplyDelete
  33. midwesternsharpie8/20/2007 6:24 PM

    cdahlkvist wrote:

    "That's one more for Minnesota."

    WOOT! GO GO GOPHERS! We'll beat the Fightin' Hawaiini yet!!! ;-)

    "At any rate, I knew (maybe it's a Minnesota thing) first because we NEVER win anything here."

    I think the cold kills off most of the weak too. ;-)

    "Next, I figured, as I read this website, that I would Google it. There is no 3 Baker Road in Kings Cross, London."

    Why does that not surprise me. Actually, I am surprised there's a "Kings Cross".

    That actually sort of begs another question: is this stuff actually coming from GB at all? I tossed my envelope, and have no idea what a British postmark would like like anyway....

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  34. whenever i get these scams i let them send me the money they want sent back. i am sitting here with at least a million in fake but real looking money orders that were delivered fedx.I figure this must cost them a lot of money for the fake money orders and delivery, why not cost them money?

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  35. I rec'd a version of same scam letter today dated Mar 18, 2009 with tel no to call in London to David Smith or Anita Banks.

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  36. They must have just sent out a bunch. This page has gotten more hits today than it has in almost two years.

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  37. I recieved my "winning" letter today, and googled Global Sweepstakes Prize, Inc.

    Thank you so much for posting your information, it was very helpful and informative. My letter was dated March 18, 2009 contact information for David Smith or Anita Banks, there must have been a mass mailing.

    I'll be sure to contact them first thing in the morning....yeah, as if. Anyway, thanks again for your post!

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  38. I got my letter from David Smith and Anita Banks yesterday. Today I googled Global Sweepstakes Prize Inc. I noticed from the comments here that these criminals have been running this scam now for two years. I assume people have been reporting it to the Federal Trade Commision and U.S. Postal Inspectors (I am) Why hasn't this been stopped before this?

    Wendy

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  39. Wendy,
    I guess they're hard to track down. The mailing address is certainly fake (maybe a real address, but those people aren't there), and the phone numbers are VoIP numbers or disposable cells, so they can't be traced that way. They may not even actually be located in the UK; they could just be paying a co-conspirator to mail the letters from there.

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  40. Same date, March 18, 2009 Global Sweepstakes Prize Inc.
    The same letter format, for $250,000 and signed David Smith. The postage markings on the envelope is the same. This is deju vu, almost 2 years later. Thanks for verifying the scam everyone.
    From San Diego, CA

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  41. Believe Sharpie is definitly a Liberal and enjoys putting people down to make himself appear superior. He should be put on an Island along with the UK Bastards who are running this scam! If in fact they are British at all???

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  42. Just got nearly the same letter from John Adams! Except this is my "Final Notification," I apparently wasn't home when they called me & I haven't responded to the first letter. This was the only letter & I never received a call. I am to contact John Adams or Linda Banks.

    I am wondering if this is being mailed now to people here in Tennessee because of the floods and some people being desperate for money.

    I will be reporting this to every place possible, not that it will do much good I'm sure.

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  43. From the traffic I'm getting on this post today, it looks like they just sent a bunch to Minnesota and Wisconsin too.

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  44. Just received the like letter today, dated 8th July 2010. Looks like they are starting up again with the scam and this time are targeting us in California. My letter also said Final Notification which of course was the first and
    only. Will be reporting this one also.

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  45. Got 1 in the mail today (Sept 1 2010) and the names at the bottom are John Clark or Linda Banks.

    So it is alive and running again.

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  46. Got the same one from John Clark and Linda Banks Dated Sept. 1st. Glad this site posted it as a fraud!!!

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  47. Jack, alabama-
    well i guess these scumbag faggot fuckers are at it again because i recived my letter today tuesday, september,7,2010 so yeh thanks alot kuri i had my hopes up high :(

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  48. I just received one today, november 10, 2010 But I need to contact John Adams or Linda Banks. Mine also said final notice but I never heard of them before this. thanks for the info.

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  49. i just got one today under the name mudpuddles the a small toy stor in ann arbor michagan.it says the same thing .it's using the name United Kingdom&North American Consumer Promotion Draw.it came with the royal mail stamp on it with the letter A

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  50. Still out to scam (Received letter Dec.17th, 2013). Under Amber-Finance & Management now!! I'm supposed to ask for David Fletcher or Debra Phillips when I call the number.

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What do you think?