Sweepstakes scam cheated unsuspecting consumers, FTC says

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A fraudulent sweepstakes operation has violated federal law by sending personalized mail to millions of consumers nationwide, per a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission last week.

According to the FTC's report, the company falsely told consumers that they had won a substantial cash prize, often said to be worth more than $3 million, even though no prizes were awarded. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The FTC complaint also alleges that the mailers sometimes contained small print that vaguely referred to a "newsletter" produced by the defendants, but not expressly informing the recipients that they had not won a prize.

Instead of prizes, some consumers received information about how to enter sweepstakes. Also, some consumers received more mailers soliciting more money and suggested that they had won other prizes.

The defendants named in the complaint, all Nevada based, are National Prize Information Group Corp., doing business as Las Vegas Actionable Awards Program, Prize Search Express, Department of Unclaimed Awards, United States Sweepstakes Advisory, United States of America Patriotism Awards, National Bureau of Prize Information, Lapham Vargas and Cornell, Director's Office, and John Rincon, individually, and as an NPIGC officer.

The FTC charged them with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act, seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a freeze of their assets.

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