Watch for a phone scam involving USA Direct Inc & National Sweepstakes Commission (NSC).
A representative from USA Direct & NSC contacted my father advising he had won $350,000 in a sweepstakes prize drawing conducted Jan 2007. To claim the prize, he advised a 'Registration and Insurance Policy' payment must first be made to the authorized agent handling the award.
A payment of $1000, in our case, was to be wired via Western Union and (get this) sent to an agent who happens to reside in Costa Rica. The con artist provided the Western Union phone number and even advised to say the money debited (to a credit card) was going to be used for a 'family emergency'. I continued to play along, but asked for a fax explaining what was needed. To my surprise, a fax was actually sent. There was no letterhead or address listed. It basically said contratulations you have won $350k and not much else.
After receiving this fax, I phoned the con artist (CA) back and asked for physical address. He advised it was 1427 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.. Of course, that would make it just across the street from the White House which is just a little doubtful! Ironically, the caller ID shown on three separate calls from the same CA showed area codes (213),(216), which (702) respectively. Those represent Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Las Vegas. I am not sure how this CA (and his company) worked that out. Probably some programming genius is involved!
The toll free number they gave was 888-495-6077
This person spoke flawless English with no foreign accent (although he obviously was from Brooklyn or the Bronx). When you call the 888 'toll free' number (888-495-6077) provided, the person answering appeared to have a heavy Jamaican or Caribbean accent.
My father, 86, has received several such calls throughout 2006 probably due to his generousity in donating a few dollars here and there. He has won maybe five international lotteries during this time ranging from $750,000 to $3 million. NOT BAD AT ALL CONSIDERING HE HAS NEVER ENTERED A CONTEST... This $350k second place prize was one of his lowest 'wins'. Most of the time, after I get on the phone, a typical CA will just hang up when I begin to ask questions. FYI, my father receives about 100 letters per week advising he has won a contest or is a finalist in a contest! All letters ask for money to be mailed ranging from $9.95 and up. I have halted his check writing, but please be careful if you have elderly relatives. These guys seem to prey on them.
Fortunately, in this case, my father came to me and I continued to 'milk' this particular CA for all the info I could obtain. I hope it helps someone out there... Please watch out!