7On your side: Sweepstakes check offer - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Sweepstakes check offer

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Curiosity may have killed the cat. In this case, it cost $20. But it provided at least a partial answer as to what happens when a consumer takes the bait in a common sweepstakes check offer.

In August, Nancy Edwards contacted 7 On Your Side, amused she had received what looked like a check for $2.3 million.

"It was saying I had won over two million dollars. Woo hoo! Yeah, right," she said.

She wanted to make sure no one fell for it and wasted $20.

"I'm afraid that someone who is older or maybe a little disabled or something would think it's legit and send them hard earned or retirement money or whatever. I can't have that happen if I can stop it.  I mean I can't do that. It just looked legit," she said.

Just to find out what would happen to anyone who followed through, we read the detailed instructions, went to the post office and bought a money order. Then, we sent it with a return receipt Sure enough, they did cash our money order but instead of sending us a real check or prize money, all Nancy received was an avalanche of junk mail.

"Fourteen that came in right behind that. Everyone says you have to reply within five days. They started on Oct. 11 and went through, the most recent I got was on Oct. 23," said Nancy as she sorted through the large stack of envelopes on her counter.

If there was a common theme, the junk mail all seemed to exhibit a wide variety of official sounding legalese and mailings obviously designed to look like it might be from government agencies, and while the businesses all had different names, they all had the same P.O. Box as the one that started our inquiry: P.O. Box 527800, Miami, FL 33152-7800

The message as Nancy read it, "Try again, try again! You're almost there, try again! No. There were none that referred back to that original one which was a check for $2.3 million. Now, I have one in this pile for a million something and another one for $3 million, but I haven't seen anything on the $2 million something again." 

So, after sending in $20 the outcome was basically what SWLA BBB Director Carmen Million predicted.

"I can tell Nancy that she's not going to receive money.  She's not going to receive the two million.  If she receives anything at all other than a request for more money she will receive literature that asks her for more money," Million said.

By the way, we did verify our money order was cashed, though it cost us $5 to find out. The post office sent verification showing the money order was deposited at Banco Popular North America -- a bank that apparently originated in Puerto Rico and the company that endorsed it was Mantaray Enterprises LLC.

For more on such offers, check out the Better Business Bureau web site.

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