From the Better Business Bureau regarding LVAAP:
Sworn to Secrecy
In the last week, local residents have reported receiving "winning prize certificates" for more than $3 million dollars in what appears to be a sweepstakes. The company sends out a credible-looking certificate, complete with an official seal. The title reads "You are Definitely Sworn to Secrecy." The phrase "Absolutely Confidential" follows. There are additional warnings throughout the document such as "Tell Nobody." The certificate informs the recipient that he or she has won more than $3 million; all they have to do is pay a $20 processing fee. To make it look credible, the document lists the names of three other "winners," all of whom have collected their millions.
The certificates are being mailed by Lapham, Vargas & Cornell, a Las Vegas, NV based company that does business under a number of names, including Bureau of Public Relations, L V A A P, Las Vegas Actionable Award Program, among others.
Consumer complaints allege failure to receive "prize" once paid for. The company's literature states there is $3,604,006 in recorded and reported awards from sweepstakes. The consumer must pay a processing fee of $20. The company then states that they will report to the consumers what part of the prize money they are entitled to and how to obtain it.
When calling the phone number listed on the report, 702-000-0312, you hear the recording, "your call cannot be completed as dialed."
"When you are sworn to secrecy, that's a major red flag", said Janna Kiehl, CEO of the Better Business Bureau. "If it's such a great deal, why the secret? Wouldn't they want to tell the world?"
Lapham, Vargas & Cornell has an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau due to one or more unanswered complaints.
The company's literature states, "LVAAP is a service offered to our customers that provides information on available sweepstakes that are open to the public for entry. Subscribers are solely responsible for investigating, viewing and complying with any and all rules, restrictions, requirements, or provisions set forth in all sweepstakes. The contents of our newsletters are accurate to the best of our knowledge, and LVAAP shall not be liable for errors, omissions, or inaccuracies. Liability for any mistake or typographical error is limited to a full refund of the purchase price of the publication. LVAAP has no affiliation with any particular sponsor of any sweepstakes or contest. No such association or affiliation should be inferred or implied.
"Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true". "Make that your motto and save yourself time and money," said Kiehl.
Red flag tips to keep your money out of the hands of scammers:
If you have to pay to win, it's a purchase, not a prize.
Secrecy. Ask yourself, "if it's such a great deal, why the secret? Wouldn't they (and you) want to tell the world?"
If you haven't entered a contest, you probably didn't win.
Another Las Vegas based sweepstakes company is targeting residents. The company, USA Direct, Inc. also known as American Direct Sweepstakes and USA Mega Million Jackpot is sending checks from a Connecticut company. Initial investigations show the address and the numbers on the bottom of the check to be bogus.