American Citizen Prize Giveaway (876-381-9952 or 315-294-3051) takes a 3% cut in fees; scam

By Robb Hicken/ chief storyteller

Get the calculator out, because if you’re a winner of the American Citizen Prize Giveaway, you’re going to have to pay a 3% fee before they release the money to you.

Boise resident Kirk says the caller identified himself on the answering machine a Robert Morris, with American Citizen Prize Giveaway. He left a phone message, but number on the caller ID was an area code 876- (which is a Jamaican number – 876-381-9952). But the number he’d left on the answering machine was for a call center in New York.

Kirk called the phone number (315-294-3051) to find out why he’d been left an urgent message. Donald Turner answered the phone and identified himself as the CEO. He said Mr. Morris had left for the day. Turner said that he’d entered a contest. He’d never entered a contest.

“He claimed we’d won $3.5 million, and that the money would be wired to us and a check available at Western Union and we only had to pay a 3 percent fee,” Kirk says. “Like I had $105,000 just sitting in a  bank somewhere.”

The next time you get a letter or phone call about being a winner in a contest, remember the following:

  • Legitimate sweepstakes don’t need you to pay or buy something to enter. If you have to pay taxes or shipping or handling charges, it’s not a prize.
  • Sponsors of legitimate contests find themselves prominently; fraudulent promoters downplay their identities.
  • Legitimate offers clearly show terms and conditions of the contest.
  • If notified by mail, check the postmark on the envelope. If it was sent as bulk rate, it’s unlikely that you’ve won a big prize.
  • Do not send any check or money order by overnight delivery or courier to claim your prize.
  • Don’t be deceived by endorsements from a well-known celebrity to give you confidence in their offer.
  • Read the material carefully and pay close attention to the fine print.
  • Be skeptical when asked to attend a sales meeting to win a prize.
  • By signing up for a contest at a trade show or similar events, you run the risk of having your personal information sold or shared with other telemarketers.
  • Beware of promoters using toll-free 800 numbers that direct you to pay-per-call 900 numbers.
  • Do not give your checking, credit card or other bank account information over the phone in response to a sweepstakes promotion.
  • Call BBB serving the Snake River Region (208-947-2100) or visit bbb.org for a report.
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