Lottery SCAMs...and how to avoid them!

Lies, Fakery, Greed and Tomfoolery

A collection of mailed SCAMs

Quotations from a (5 Red Flag rated) SCAM letter sent by: “North Shore Animal League”

Please remember, the quotations below are from the SCAM letter from the “North Shore Animal League” _not_ by

“MISS First_Name Last_Name

Red Flag  # 1  “You have won a prize in our sweepstakes.

Image of winning sticker

“Dear Miss First_Name Last_Name,

Red Flag  # 2  “My name is Mary Walsh and I am a member of the Sweepstakes Award Committee. It is part of my job to help award the prizes that will be given away in the Lucky Streak Sweepstakes.

“The reason I am writing to you today is that our records indicate that you are one of our winners in the Lucky Streak Sweepstakes from Your_State.

“Arrangements have already been made to deliver your prize to Your_address. But in order to release it, we need to hear from you right away.

“To confirm receipt of this notice, and to release your prize, simply sign the Signature form at right, detach it and return it along with your Winner Claim Form.

“As a small prize winner, you are also eligible to be entered for a chance to win the Grand Prize of $25,000.00, paid in one lump sum. If you’re selected as our Grand Prize Winner...

A check for the sum of $25,000.00 CASH
will be written out to Miss Last_Name

“Just think what you could do with the money. Pay off your bills. Treat the family to a vacation. Buy that special gift. Save it and watch it grow. It’s your choice. But first you’ve got to GUARANTEE your eligibility for the $25,000.00 Grand Prize, plus a chance to win additional cash prizes.

Please remember, the quotations above and below are from the SCAM letter from the “North Shore Animal League” _not_ by

“Important: $25,000.00 UPC Gold Seal Instructions

“Here’s why you needed to read this letter carefully before removing the $25,000.00 UPC Seal on the reverse side. To guarantee your eligibility for a chance to win the $25,000.00 cash, you must detach the Gold Seal, affix it in the space provided on your Winner Claim Form. Then return it in the courtesy envelope provided.

“Here’s more good news...

“Your personal Jumbo Bucks game card is enclosed. Scratch the money bags to reveal numbers. When your amount beats our amount, you’re eligible for a chance to win that amount -- up to $15,000.00 CASH!

Red Flag  # 3 Make no mistake - you’re positively guaranteed to receive any and all prizes to which you’re entitled. No strings attached. I only hope that when you return your Winner Claim Form that you will help to give our homeless pets another chance at life by making a voluntary tax-deductible contribution to our animal shelter. No purchase or contribution is necessary to enter or win and a purchase or contribution does not increase your chances of winning.

“Recently, we celebrated our 65th Anniversary. Over sixty-five rewarding years of saving lost and abandoned dogs and cats since we began in 1944. I wish I could tell you that we already have enough money to care for all these homeless pets. But the sad truth is we desperately need your help, especially with today’s economy.

“In spite of our tireless efforts, it is a constant battle to raise the money needed to save all the animals that pass through our doors each year. We don’t destroy them. We won’t destroy them.

“It costs over $5 a week to help provide care and shelter for each pet. Won’t you please make a tax-deductible contribution?

“I’ve sent you everything you need to enter and win. The rest is up to you. We’ll be watching for your reply, so be sure to respond by the deadline date.

Supposed image of Mary Walsh signature

Please remember, the quotations above and below are from the SCAM letter from the “North Shore Animal League” _not_ by

P.S. Act fast and you could win again — a free TV or $150.00. Plus, Fast 50 winners have 1 in 50 odds at $1,000.000 cash. To be eligible for these prizes you must beat the deadline.

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“Grand Prize Notice and Claim Form

Red Flag  # 4 

$ 25,000.00


Issued To:

MISS First_Name Last_Name

You have already been selected to win a merchandise prize.

Return Claim Form below and your Signature Form to release your prize and be eligible for a chance to win the $25,000.00 Grand Prize.

Red Flag  # 5 

“If you return your winner Claim Form and it is selected for the Grand Prize.

MISS First_Name Last_Name WILL RECEIVE $25,000.00

Please remember, the quotations above are from the SCAM letter from the “North Shore Animal League” _not_ by

Red Flag  # 1  WOW! You didn’t even know you’d entered any contest and you’ve already won! Hopefully, that raised a huge red flag in your mind! Reading a bit further you find that the mention of a $25,000 is also suspect, of course. Actually, you have, supposedly, ‘won’ either a TV or $150. Guess which one it will be. Or do you really want a TV worth 150 dollars?! (return to # 1 Red Flag above)

Red Flag  # 2  I have no doubt that most National charities have a committee or at least a person whose job is to coordinate or maintain fundraising. However, I’m not sure what “North Shore Animal League” would be doing for any one or any animal outside its local area. I’ve never heard of them in my location, have you? What we have here is nothing more than a "fundraising" operation that mainly funds the fund-raisers! This is a particularly insidious problem when deciding which charity to support. Check the link below and note that over half of its fundraising expenses were over 50% of the amount spent on services it provides! If you are interested in providing help to animals, here is a link to Charity Watch listing over a dozen providers with a "B" or better rating:

(return to # 2 Red Flag above)

Red Flag  # 3  The problem noted by this red flag is the phrase at the end of this sentence. The phrase “"to which you are entitled” can easily be used to simply reject your “winnings”. It will be extremely easy for your entry to be “lost”! You have absolutely no way to know what might happen to your entry. Even if you pay for “Return Receipt”, “Signature Confirmation”, “Certificate of Mailing”, and “Certified Mail” you will still not know what might happen to your entry after it is delivered. (return to # 3 Red Flag above)

Red Flag  # 4  This is not actually a Notice that anyone has won the Grand’s simply a Notice that the RECIPIENT will be ELIGIBLE TO WIN that prize, IF, and ONLY IF the Winner Claim Form is returned AND you are selected from everyone else who followed those requirements. In other words, this Notice is nothing more than the presentation of the rules for the contest. And, don’t forget to return that Signature Form, also. (return to # 4 Red Flag above)

Let’s look at the rules for those “ACT FAST” prizes. The letter says to simply look at the rules for that part of the contest. And where might those rules be? They don’t appear in the letter nor on any of the various inserts. There are mentions of them, including a crude drawing of a TV set and cash bundle. But, where are those rules?!

I finally found the rules by taking the delivery envelope apart! What a strange place to print anything, especially something as important as rules! I suppose that was just a money-saving way to do it? Had to pay for those envelopes, anyway. Might as well make use of the wasted space inside them! It’s always a good idea to read all the rules for any contest but I’ve never seen one that makes it so difficult to actually find them. From now on, I’ll be looking at the inside of all envelopes!

Now that we know where the rules are, there’s quite a bit of interesting reading on other subjects. Since you are told that you are definitely the winner of a “small merchandise prize”, I found it informative to see that the prize has a “retail value of $ 2.50. Odds of winning a guaranteed prize are 1 in 1.” Well, of course, the odds are 1 in 1! That’s what guaranteed means! There’s really no “contest” much less any “odds” for that “prize”, everyone will get one! DOH!

Now, back to that “Fast Act” contest: First, the name, in the rules section calls this a “FAST 50” contest. The rules explain that there are actually two different contests every three months. One contest will be for a color TV or “merchandise of equivalent value (approximate retail value: $ 150.00 ea.)” At that value, I’m not sure what will be in color: it may simply mean the TV box will be blue or red or...! By the way, the odds of winning one of these fabulous TVs are “no greater than 1 in 30,000.” Note that you will need to enter a new contest every three months.

Now, the odds for winning the additional $ 1,000.00 are quite good! Those odds are 1 in 50! But in order to even be elegible, you have to have been a winner of one of those 50 color TVs (or an equivalent valued merchandise item). Once again, those are awarded every three months in separate drawing. Don’t be discouraged and skip a contest!

Red Flag  # 5  Please notice the fine print at the bottom of this form. You can read it better on your own copy. but for those who have not yet received a copy, it says “No... contribution is necessary.” More importantly, the fine print also says, a “...contribution does not increase your chances of winning”. Therefore, I refer you back to the Charity Watch linked above for much more suitable charities that have proven records of actually helping animals. (return to # 5 Red Flag above)

This group claims to be a support for animals. You’ll be hard pressed to find any direct mention of that in this letter, however. Their primary goal in the letter is to get you to send them money. And they are spending quite a bit of what you send them for that very purpose. The following link will show you how much they spend on actually helping animals and how much they spend just on raising money and paying for the six-figure salary of their President.

If you are wondering how you may have been selected to become one of their “winners” (which, in reality, is everyone to whom they send a letter), you might want to contact them or one or more of the Direct Mail list providers with which they have done business:

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