Special Report: Contest scam warning

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Don't be a loser in a contest scam. Phony letters promising million dollar prizes are showing up in more and more mailboxes, this time of year.

Nancy Anderson got letters from 2 different companies, each awarding her more than a million dollars. She knows it's a scam....

"One million 400 dollars, great day!" she said.

But, the money appeal makes her dream anyway, about how she'd spend all that money.

"Fix up this house; I got a granddaughter who wants to go to college. None of us got transportation," said Nancy.

Scammers get cash from the curious, to pay for their mass mailings and to fatten their pockets. Don't respond, tear up the letter, and toss it in the trash.

"I read thru it, it said send the $19.99 fee. I said 'Uh oh, that's the end of that'," said Nancy

Nancy's letters identify her as a guaranteed, confirmed winner, instructing her to mail back a release payment fee. If she does though they win, she loses and her name ends up on what scammers call a 'sucker's list' then it is sold to other companies offering prize promotions. Remember, legitimate free prizes don't have strings attached.

"Diane said if people are going to give you something they don't ask you to send them, 19 dollars to get a million," said Nancy.

Also, it's unlikely to win a contest you didn't enter.

"A lot of seniors listen to that sort of thing and they send their hard earned money and lose the money and everything. I said no. The old mind is still pretty sharp," she said.

The best advice from consumer advocate is to throw it away if you have the slightest doubt about the legitimacy of any offer.

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