Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If it sounds too good to be true ...

It is. Also, if it sounds too *weird* to be true, it is. Just ... this was so "off" to me, I couldn't let it go.

My MIL called earlier. "I won $25,000!!!" Long convoluted story, she received a phone call and the person on the other end told her she'd won the money in a Canadian sweepstakes.
First clue: It is a violation of federal law to enter sweepstakes and lottos in other countries. She may have entered 500 sweeps in the last year, but none of them were foreign.

Then the person on the other end of the phone said they were from Customs in New York, that the IRS would be taking 1% of her winnings for customs, and that she'd need to go to the local customs office here to get her check, taking her ID with her.
Second clue: U.S. Customs is part of the Department of Homeland Security. They will not call you and tell you that they have a check for you. They do not handle private affairs like this. And hello, if it's against the law to enter the contest, the government is certainly not going to approve of you getting money through their office!

How do I know? I called them. One of the agents called me and told me flat out it's a scam and they will not get involved.

He did tell us to get the FCC involved since they were calling on the phone, but it is not something they can handle.

Here are some other clues for you: Do not pay money to get your "winnings" from any lotto/sweepstakes. Fortunately, MIL wasn't asked to do so or she probably would've. You will be out thousands of dollars and will never see your winnings. Fees will not be asked for up front -- *if* there are any legitimate taxes or fees (which there usually aren't), they will take it out of your check! If you haven't entered a contest for something, you haven't won anything. Stick to legitimate, U.S.-based businesses and trades when you do enter contests. If they send you a small check to wire the money to them so you can claim your winnings, this is STUPID and don't do it -- you will be held legally accountable for that money, even if you don't have it to give. Also, a Nigerian prince is never going to email you and ask you to help him get out of bondage ... no matter how hot the picture he sends you, it is NOT him and it will only cause you grief. (this applies to princesses as well -- and this example is one the Homeland Security dude mentioned specifically).

"Scammers should all be shot." -- steph.

I can only hope the Lord has a bad, hot place for them.

(i will admit, i hoped it was true, too. because i'm evil and know she would've shared. lol)

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