U.S. authorities are trying to shut down a network of companies that send consumers bogus letters telling them they've won a sweepstakes.
Consumers are mailed an official looking document advising that they have won a large amount of money, which will be sent upon payment of a small processing fee.
Exhibits filed in U.S. Federal Court show the various letters and documents appear to come from government agencies, international organizations or gaming associations. They're replete with official looking seals and language that appears on official documents.
But after sending the $20 processing fee, all consumers receive is information about entering a sweepstakes.
Consumers are not clearly informed they have not won a prize, authorities say.
The Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. consumer protection agency, has taken eight companies and four individuals to court in order to end the mailing of the bogus prize letters.
The agency is also asking the court to order the companies to hand over their ill-gotten gains from the scam.
Companies named in the suit are:
- National Awards Service Advisory, LLC
- Central Processing of Nevada, LLC
- International Award Advisors, Inc.
- Spectrum Caging Service, Inc.
- Prize Registry Bureau, Inc.
- Consolidated Data Bureau, Inc.
- Registered Data Analytics, Inc.
- Lloyd Brannigan Exchange, Inc.
All of the companies named in the suit are from the U.S.