Other Fraud: Sweepstakes and Sweethearts

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The theft of people’s identities is the fastest growing scam in the United States.

The intent of identity theft is to gain access to credit and checking account numbers, allowing scammers to make purchases using the credit and resources of the victim.   For example, thieves make purchases using your credit card, or sell real estate or other assets that belong to you and pocket the money.   They may also use your health care benefits and leave you to pay their bills.

The best protection is to always check bills and statements carefully.  Contact the customer service if you notice any unusual charges.


Sweepstakes companies send you letters suggesting that you must buy their products in order to win a prize.  The mailings often suggest that your chances of winning increase if you buy more products.  The result is that you buy hundreds of dollars of products in the hopes of winning.  In all sweepstakes, there is no obligation to buy anything and purchasing product does not increase the chances of winning.


You are contacted by someone from overseas who has a US check from a reputable entity (such as a large US corporation).  They cannot cash it in their country.   The scammer endorses the check and sends it to you.  They ask you to deposit it and keep 20% while sending them 80%.  Later, it turns out that the check is bogus and will not be honored.


By fax, email or regular mail, someone contacts you with a proposal.  They present themselves as a former high-ranking official in a developing country, or the relative of such a person.

They have several millions of dollars that they must transfer into the U.S. They will pay you a handsome commission if you use your bank account to help them make this transfer.  They may then ask you for thousands of dollars needed to pay off a local official who is blocking the wire.   These are all scams to get your bank account information and then withdraw all your funds.


Acorn wishes to acknowledge the Office of the Attorney General of North Carolina for this valuable content.  If you think a loved one has been victimized, call the NC Attorney General office at 877-5NO-SCAM