Scam Alert: Phony Sweepstakes
Make-A-Wish of America on Monday urgently renewed a nationwide scam alert, warning individuals not to believe anyone calling their homes and posing as federal employees demanding advance payment of taxes on fictitious sweepstakes prizes supposedly awarded by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
These calls are a scam. Make-A-Wish does not award sweepstakes prizes under any circumstances. Nor does it engage in telemarketing to raise money. The Foundation first issued an alert on this scam in December 2009.
Since that time, individuals from across the United States have been told that, in order to claim their "prize," they must first wire money to cover taxes, insurance and courier services on the supposed winnings. Many report giving thousands of dollars in what they believed were mandatory taxes before discovering the fraudulent nature of the phone calls.
"This is a scam unlike any we have ever experienced before, both in terms of the amount of money that people are being tricked out of, and in terms of the lengths these scammers will go to convince callers they are actually federal agents," said Paul G. Allvin, vice president of marketing and communications for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.
"Many of the victims truly believed they would receive hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars in return for paying these taxes in advance. And they often dug into their savings or raided their retirement nest eggs to pay the money," Allvin said. "It is a despicable act on the part of the scammers, particularly at a time when so many are suffering from the down economy."
Callers may claim to be agents of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Internal Revenue Service, or the U.S. Customs Service. They often provide fictitious names and phone numbers of people who falsely claim to be representatives of the Make-A-Wish Foundation or insurance carriers such as Lloyd's of London.
About the Make-A-Wish Foundation: The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Founded in 1980 when a group of caring volunteers helped a young boy fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, the Foundation is now the largest wish-granting charity in the world, with 65 chapters in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and nearly 25,000 volunteers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants a wish every 40 minutes and has granted more than 193,000 wishes in the United States since its inception. For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit wish.org and discover how you can share the power of a wish® .
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