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Attorney General warns of sweepstakes scams

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Cash money
Cash money

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO-AM) -  Attorney General Marty Jackley is warning South Dakota consumers to be cautious of sweepstakes solicitations that continue to plague the state.  Here are a few warning signs of the typical sweepstakes scam:

1. Sweepstakes Scams Require You Pay to Receive the Prize- Legitimate sweepstakes will rarely ask you to pay fees to participate or to receive a prize. You should rarely have to pay handling charges, service fees, or any other kind of charges up front to receive a win.  

2. Sweepstakes Scams Tell You You've Won - You can only win sweepstakes that you enter. 

3. Sweepstakes Scams Send You a Large Check with your Notification- To fool people into thinking that a sweepstakes scam is legitimate, many con artists send fake checks along with their phony win notifications. Cashing fraudulent checks is a crime, and you could be liable for fines and even closure of your bank account, as well as losing any money you wire.

4. Sweepstakes Scams Instruct You to Wire Money- Criminals use wire services to receive funds, because it is nearly impossible to trace who received the money.  

5. Sweepstakes Scams Pressure You to Act in a Hurry- Sweepstakes scammers have a very good reason for wanting you to act quickly: they want to ensure that they receive their money before their check bounces or you read an article like this one and realize that you are being defrauded. 

6. Sweepstakes Scams Require Bank or Credit Card Info to Receive Your Prize- Legitimate sweepstakes do not send wins by direct deposit, nor do they need to withdraw money from your bank or verify information using your credit card number. 

7. The "Win" is From a Lottery- It is impossible to win a lottery without buying a ticket.   It is illegal to sell tickets for foreign lotteries across international borders. 

8. Sweepstakes Scams Often Don't Use Your Name- Especially in the case of email win notifications, many sweepstakes scams send thousands upon thousands of fake emails to every address they can get their hands on - often without knowing the name of the people they're contacting. If your win notice has a generic salutation like "Dear Sir" it's a good indication that it's a sweepstakes scam.

9. Sweepstakes Scams Can Pose As Government Organizations- To appear more legitimate, some sweepstakes scams pretend to come from government organizations such as the FTC or the "National Sweepstakes Board" (which doesn't actually exist). 

10. Sweepstakes Scams Contain Many Typos- Glaring errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation should be a red flag for consumers.

If you have been a victim of this scam or would like additional information contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division as 1-800-300-1986 or consumerhelp@state.sd

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