Federal officials warn of lottery and sweepstakes scams

03/06/2014 4:54 PM

03/06/2014 4:54 PM

Instead of bringing riches, bogus foreign lotteries, sweepstakes and prize offers can drain bank accounts, federal prosecutors and postal inspectors warned Thursday.

Speaking during National Consumer Protection Week, U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson warned against offers that often sound too good to be true.

“Sadly, the elderly are all too often the target,” Dickinson said.

The schemes often originate overseas, in Mexico or Canada and can be difficult to investigate and prosecute, said Tom Noyes, assistant inspector in charge of the local office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

“Financial scams … know no boundaries,” Noyes said. “There’s never a day goes by that (someone) doesn’t get a solicitation.”

A hallmark of such schemes is the promise of a big payoff, but only after the target pays a processing or insurance fee or makes a purchase to increase the chances of winning.

Legitimate sweepstakes do not require such purchases and payments, Noyes said.

Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas, said elderly people are prime targets for such crimes because too often they are unprepared for the level of sophistication that modern criminals bring to their scams.

For information about bogus lottery, sweepstakes and prize offers and where to report such crimes, go to



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