Your Better Business Bureau Serving Northwest Florida reports that the “Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes” scam has reappeared in northwest Florida. Local residents have received letters and fraudulent checks claiming they have won the Reader’s Digest sweepstakes. But rather than winning thousands, victims end up losing money.
Residents of northwest Florida report receiving letters claiming they have won $145,000 in the Reader’s Digest sweepstakes along with a check for several thousand dollars. Recipients of the letter are told to call a number in Canada for further instructions. As is common in these types of scams, victims are told to wire a portion of the money to cover taxes or other administrative fees before the remainder of their “winnings” can be issued.The letter
includes the Better Business Bureau’s Accredited Business seal along with logos from Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Target, The Home Depot, Zellers and Macy’s yet never explains these businesses’ association with the sweepstakes. Additionally, though the letter claims to be from the Reader’s Digest sweepstakes, the check that accompanies a letter provided to BBB is from Farmers Insurance Group, not Reader’s Digest – another red flag that the letter is a scam.
“This is yet another scam seeking to take advantage of name recognition,” said Norman Wright, president and CEO of your BBB|Northwest Florida. “Scammers are using the well-known names of BBB and Reader’s Digest to convince victims to wire money to con artists operating outside of the country. BBB has nothing to do with the sweepstakes – the scammers have stolen our trusted Accredited Business seal – and Reader’s Digest sweepstakes don’t require winners to wire money anywhere.”
BBB’s advice is simple: never
wire money to someone you don’t know personally and trust completely. Once the money is wired, it’s gone. Don’t believe claims that you must pay the prize company for “taxes.” The IRS will contact you about any taxes that are due. If you have to pay to get a lotto/sweepstakes prize, don’t fall for it: it’s a scam!
For additional information and advice you can trust, start with bbb.org.