1 of 5 Prizes Scam

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Fraudulent Sweepstakes Techniques

It's All For A Good Cause

Wishing to counter your natural greed and skepticism, scam artists will often appeal to your altruism and charitable nature by linking your prize with a required donation to some "worthwhile cause."

Publishing Clearing House (not to be confused with Publishers Clearing House) operated a nationwide telemarketing business in Las Vegas which told people that they were guaranteed to win one of four prizes: a $50,000 annuity, a $25,000 gold rush bond, $5,000 cash, or $3,500 cash, provided you made a donation to one of their charities, such as "For the Children" or "H.O.P.E." ("Helping Other People Exist"). Their policy was to seek a minimum donation of $1,000, but many people were induced to donate far greater amounts.

About thirty days after ones first donation, they called again for a "reload" in order to solicit an additional contribution. Some people eventually received a wooden plaque, flowers, candy, or a small elephant sculpture, but none of the major prizes were awarded.

"For the Children" was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation ten days after PCH was incorporated. H.O.P.E. applied for a license to solicit funds on the same day they applied for their business license. H.O.P.E.'s sole charitable activities consisted of a $15,000 gift to the Red Cross and the Lymphatic Center. According to their seized records, the mostly elderly victims sent at least $361,310.

"Say No Now, Inc." stated that in order to receive your valuable award, you had to make a charitable donation to SNN to help keep children away from drugs and alcohol. Almost none of the $1.2 million dollars they collected went to charitable causes and the victims were given prizes worth only about 15% of the money they "donated".

A New Jersey resident paid a $69 "shipping and handling charge" to get his "free" $1,000 savings bond (with a maturity of some 30 years). He could have bought the same bond from the US Government for only $50 without all the "extras".

Some winners get awards such as checks in the amount of fifty cents or desert lots in Mexico with sixty year leases that require an annual maintenance fee payment.


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