On May 2-3, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop in Chicago to examine what more can be done to protect consumers from lottery, prize, and sweepstakes scams, and other scams that use money transfers through companies like MoneyGram and Western Union as the method of payment.
The workshop, “‘Congratulations, You’re a Winner!’ – Lottery, Prize, and Sweepstakes Scams and the Role of Money Transfer Services,” will bring together law enforcers, consumer protection organizations, businesses, and representatives from money transfer service providers to discuss the most effective ways to combat this ongoing problem.
Lottery, prize, and sweepstakes scams, which include government imposter scams and fake check scams, continue to be of particular concern to the FTC. These are scams in which consumers are falsely told, “You’re a Winner” of a particular lottery or sweepstakes, and that they need only wire money to pay taxes or other fees to collect their prize.
The agency’s recently released Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for 2010 shows that these types of scams were the third highest complaint category for that year, right behind identity theft and debt collection. The Data Book also shows that “money transfer” was the method of payment in 44 percent of the 2010 complaints that included information on the method of payment, up from 21 percent in 2009. These complaints alone represented more than $144 million in consumer losses.
The workshop is free and open to the public. It will be held in Chicago at the Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Room 331, and is co-sponsored by the United States Postal Inspection Service.
More information, including a workshop agenda and directions on how to pre-register, can be found at ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/moneytransfer/. Pre-registration for this workshop is not required, but is encouraged. Information for consumers about money transfer scams can be found here.
Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for such accommodations should be submitted via e-mail to [email protected] or by calling Michele Smith at 312-960-5626. Such requests should include a description of the accommodations needed and a way to contact you if we need more information. Please make this request in advance.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.