Hi, I’m calling from the Federal Trade Commission to tell you that you have won $250,000.” Oh, really? The FTC — as in, the nation’s consumer protection agency — is having a sweepstakes?
It’s a scam, says the agency. As if it needed to.
To receive the prize, all you have to do is pay the taxes and insurance. The caller asks you to wire money or send a check for an amount between $1,000 and $10,000. What should you do? Don’t send money or account information, and immediately report the incident to the real Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC sweepstakes con only the latest in a series of scams that begin with a memorable come-on.
“Have I got a job for you”
The Better Business Bureau is warning (PDF) that some job offers really are too good to be true. Consider the story of one woman who was offered employment by a man named Robert Filter, who said he was looking for a personal assistant. The pay? $500 a week.
The local woman knew something was wrong when she received a $3,900 check via UPS and was told to cash the check, keep $500, wire transfer $3,000 to a person in New York, and use the remaining $400 for transfers and transportation costs. The “employer” said this wire was meant for “plans for his daughter’s birthday, so treat it with all importance.”
“We have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $773.80.”
True story: Apparently the Internal Revenue Service, a.k.a., “IRS.com” is offering these bogus rebates, according to reports.
It goes on a little longer, then says, “To access your tax refund, use the form attached to this e-mail.” When you open the attachment, it asks for all kinds of personal information: your social security number, date of birth, debit or credit card information.
Folks, if the government doesn’t already have all of that information, then you know it’s a scam. But just in case, the real IRS issued this warning a few years ago warning taxpayers of the scam.
“I’m from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and you’ve won our sweepstakes.”
No you haven’t. You’re about to be scammed, according to the real Make-A-Wish Foundation.
These calls are a scam. The Make-A-Wish Foundation does not award sweepstakes prizes under any circumstances. Nor does it engage in telemarketing to raise money.
But apparently a lot of folks are falling for this one, which involves fraudsters posing as federal employees, demanding advance payment of taxes on fictitious sweepstakes prizes supposedly awarded by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
What do all of these recent scams have in common? Some of them are too good to be true. Many use the government’s credibility — the IRS or the FTC — to win your confidence. But the all involve tacky pick-up lines that should raise red flags with even the most trusting consumer.
Have you heard any good pick-up lines lately?
(Photo: gee/Flickr Creative Commons)