The Federal Trade Commission is warning Americans to beware of impostors who, in the guise of being from a government agency, call to inform people they have won a huge sweepstakes from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a well-known charity for sick children.
The scammers, who claim to be from the FTC or another agency, say the winner must first pay thousands of dollars to cover taxes or insurance, hoping to dupe people into sending money. The call may come from the 202 Washington, D.C., area code (in which the FTC headquarters are located) to give the false impression that it’s a legitimate call.
“This is just a scheme using the well-known names of Make-A-Wish and the FTC to rob thousands of dollars from people,” the FTC warns on its website. “Once you wire money or send banking information, you will never see your money again.”
The agency provides these tips to protect yourself:
“If someone asks you to wire money or provide your bank account information over the telephone, it’s a scam.”
“Anytime you have to pay to get a prize, it’s a scam.”
“The FTC doesn’t oversee sweepstakes, and no FTC staff is involved in giving out sweepstakes prizes. We do, however, go after sweepstakes scams like this one.”
Consumers are encouraged to report scams to the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at ftc.gov/complaint.