If you have been the victim of sweepstakes fraud, or you know someone else who has been, reporting the scam to the proper authorities may help catch the criminals before they can prey on another innocent victim. Here are some of the agencies that handle sweepstakes scams, and how to contact them.
1. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)If your sweepstakes scam was perpetrated online, via an email or a website, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). An online form makes reporting quick and painless. The IC3 is an inter-agency website run by the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI. They will process your report and direct it to the proper legal organization.
2. The United States Postal ServiceIf you are a U.S. citizen and you received a scam letter in the mail, or you received a fraudulent mail that originated in the U.S., you can report the scam to the United States Postal Service by downloading and returning this mail fraud complaint form. You can also report mail fraud online, by telephone, or in person. For help finding someone to talk to, visit the USPS Customer Service website.
3. The Federal Trade CommissionThe Federal Trade Commission collects information about current scams and frauds and directs it to law enforcement officials.
4. PhonebustersIf your scam involves a Canadian company, or you are a Canadian citizen, you can report it to Phonebusters at their website for Reporting Economic Crime Online. Phonebusters actively investigates sweepstakes fraud, and is a good source of information.
5. Your Local PoliceFiling a report with your local police can help you get the information you need to attempt to reclaim lost money. The police can also assist you in contacting authorities who are investigating similar crimes.
6. Publishers Clearing House's Abuse TeamPublishers Clearing House's good name is often used in sweepstakes scams. PCH works closely with legal authorities to help stop scams that claim to come from Publishers Clearing House. If you've received an email, bulk letter, or telephone call saying that you've won from PCH, you can send a report to firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. About.com Contests' Scam ExamplesSweepers are particularly vulnerable to scams, because winning big prizes could really happen to them. To help warn other sweepstakes fans about scams, visit the collection of Sweepstakes Scam Examples. If you share your experiences there, other people can learn from them and avoid being caught by the scam themselves.
Want to know what a sweepstakes scam looks like? This article collects examples of real-world sweepstakes scams. Have you ever received a sweepstakes scam? Report it here and help others avoid the scam!