Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC” or “Commission”) denounced an alleged sweepstakes scam that struck a little too close to home. According to the Commission, the audacious scammer is mailing information to consumers about an FTC investigation that never took place and offering to help collect millions in sweepstakes prize money that never existed.
Should legitimate marketers be concerned about this sweepstakes charlatan stirring up an FTC hornet’s nest?
Brave Sweepstakes Scammer
Last Monday, the FTC published a blog post describing the subject fake sweepstakes promotion. The Commission claims that consumers are receiving letters in the mail stating that they have won – and subsequently forfeited – $2.5 million in an alleged sweepstakes promotion. The mailing, which purports to be from an attorney in California, includes a separate forged letter from FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright that describes a bogus FTC investigation of sweepstakes sponsors and enlists the supposed lawyer’s help.
The package also allegedly contains a legal retainer agreement and asks consumers to pay thousands of dollars for assistance with the sweepstakes claim. The Commission has warned that the sweepstakes prize, FTC investigation and Commissioner Wright’s endorsement are all entirely fabricated.
Don’t Let Your Sweepstakes Promotion Get Swept Up in Legal Trouble
This latest sweepstakes scam is not only an insult to the Commission, consumers and experienced marketing and FTC compliance attorneys, but to straight-laced sweepstakes and contest sponsors as well. The FTC already takes a strong stance against legitimate marketers that do not comply with sweepstakes regulations, and it is imperative that they remain abreast of ever-evolving legal developments in the promotional contest and marketing space or risk bearing substantial liability. In light of the shots fired at the Commission by this scammer, sponsors should expect the FTC to remain strict and thorough in their investigation of sweepstakes promotions and contests.