Lottery and sweepstakes scammers come in many forms. Some even claim to be from government agencies including the United States Federal Trade Commission. These impostors will obtain your phone, home or business address or email and tell you that you've won a big prize or cash. Using technology, they can even disguise their phone number to appear that they're calling from Washington, D.C., or fake an email address that seems to be from a legitimate government agency.
What happens next is usually some sort of phishing attempt for your personal information such as banking account numbers. You may be asked to send cash to pay for the taxes on the supposed prize you've won before it can be disbursed. If this happens to you, consider reporting the specifics to the FTC.
The FTC won't resolve your individual case that you have with an impostor. If you've fallen for a scam, you should contact a lawyer or law enforcement for advice on how to get back any money stolen from you if possible. However, reporting the scam to FTC may help to eventually stop the perpetrators of these crimes. If impostors have succeeded a few times with their fake lotteries, they may continue using the patterns they developed to snare more victims. The data you report to the FTC could be used to track the pattern used.
You may be embarrassed by falling for a con and even chalk up a small cash loss to experience. But these criminals become emboldened by this and will keep on going until they're stopped or move on to new tactics. We can all be suckered no matter how savvy we think we are. There's no shame in having had a bad experience with one of these impostors. You aren't to blame.
How to Report
The FTC provides an easy online process to file a complaint. Once you give your info, you'll be guided through several pages to describe exactly what type of problem you're having. It could be the type of scams I've mentioned above or email spam, identify theft or problems with a debt collector to name a few.
The reporting page at the FTC website is located here. Sweepstaking is still a fun, safe hobby. Just practice some basic personal information safety steps and you'll keep on having fun.