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.
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.
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.
This scam is apparently also going out under the name "Skye Sweepstakes." Here are some other common lottery scam names.
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.
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 [firstname.lastname@example.org]. 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:
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
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.
A recent new name: ukeuro onlinelottery promo (UK Euro Online Lottery Promo)
See the top of the page
Update 7: (1/15/2011)
More fraud resources