Sweepstakes scam cleaning out residents

Recently some Tulare County residents have been receiving mailers as part of a scheme to defraud them.

In these matters the victim receives a letter with a check in the mail stating they won a lottery or sweepstakes; it may even state it is from the Publisher’s Clearinghouse or Reader’s Digest. The letter instructs the victim to deposit the enclosed check and wire a portion back to cover taxes or fees. It may take a few weeks, but the check will be returned to the bank and unfortunately, the victim is out the dollar amount that was wired back allegedly to cover taxes and fees.

“Our community should be aware that you should never send money to receive any winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes,” said Tim Ward, Assistant District Attorney for Tulare County. “Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes do not place strings on their prizes. You should never have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive your prize or winnings – those are sure signs that the alleged notification is a scam. To avoid being scammed never wire money to someone you don’t know.”

For more information about businesses operating legitimately in our community consumers can contact the Better Business Bureau at (559) 222-8111.

If you have questions about a potential scam or are aware of any business practices which are unlawful, misleading or unfair please contact the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (559) 636-5410.

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