Sweepstakes and prizes scams are illegal, and defendants who perpetrate the scams can be charged with violating federal law. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC knows that prosecutors aggressively pursue cases against those who are accused of involvement with operating scam contests or lotteries. Our legal team will work hard to help you avoid being ordered to make restitution and being sent to jail. When you need a NY defense lawyer with experience handling federal and state fraud cases, give us a call so we can provide the aggressive legal advocacy that could help you protect your freedom.
How Do Sweepstakes and Prizes Scams Work?
Federal laws prohibit false representations in sweepstakes and contest or prize promotions. Mailings and other advertisements for contests cannot falsely assert someone has won a prize, unless a prize will actually be provided to the recipient. No fake checks can be provided either, unless the check is clearly labeled as non-negotiable and designated as having no cash value.
Sweepstakes and contest advertisements also generally cannot require orders, purchases, or payments to enter contests, nor can contest advertisements contain seals, terms, or names implying any connection with the federal government. Prize promoters may also be required by law to provide certain information, including the odds of winning, when promoting contests.
Despite these strict rules, sweepstakes and prize scams are common. Scams may include:
- Claiming someone has won a contest but has to pay to get a prize, then collecting money and never sending the winnings.
- Asking for personal or financial information to enter a contest, and then using that information to commit identity theft or financial fraud.
- Requiring payment for entry into a sweepstakes, which is not a legitimate contest.
- Sending fake “winnings” in the form of a fraudulent check, and then requiring the contest winner to forward some of the money on. The money is wired before the “winner” becomes aware the initial prize check was fraudulent.
- Sending text messages saying a prize has been won in order to direct “winners” to websites where personal information is collected and where winners sign up for trial offers that have recurring fees.
The New York State attorney general, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and federal law enforcement agencies may all investigate sweepstakes and prize scams. Legal action may be taken on the federal level or on the state level, depending upon where the victims and perpetrators of the alleged scam are located and depending upon what form the scam took. Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Top Rated Criminal Lawyer
Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC
TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
What are the Penalties for Involvement with Sweepstakes Scams?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can pursue legal action to obtain financial compensation for violating laws regarding sweepstakes promotions and contest or prize promotions. The FTC has fined those who run fake sweepstakes millions of dollars. In many cases, those who enter into settlement agreements with the FTC must also agree not to be involved in any prize promotions in the future.
Both civil actions and criminal prosecution can occur after accusations are made that you are involved in a sweepstakes or prize promotion scam. There are a number of federal and state crimes you could be charged with, including mail fraud or wire fraud, identity theft, Internet fraud, and general consumer fraud.
Each individual criminal count could lead to a lengthy prison term, if you are found guilty. Mail and wire fraud alone each could result in a maximum prison sentence of 20 years incarceration. One New York man, for example, reportedly pled guilty to wire fraud for bilking seniors out of $300,000 in a sweepstakes telemarketing scheme. He was convicted for his part in the crime and was awaiting sentencing with the potential for two decades in prison and a $250,000 fine.
How Can a NY Defense Lawyer Help If You’re Accused of Running a Prizes Scam?
When accused of involvement with a prize scam, your goals are to protect your money and stay out of prison. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can help you to develop effective strategies for trying to achieve both of those aims.
Our experienced legal team has successfully represented many defendants accused of criminal wrongdoing related to prize scams, sweepstakes fraud, and other types of fraud offenses. We know how prosecutors work and our experienced NY criminal defense lawyers will stand up for your rights and fight to protect you as you navigate the criminal court system. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help when we represent you.