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
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
"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
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.