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Recently, someone showed up at the door of the FTC to ask about his prize. He had a mailing saying he’d won $5 million – and the FTC had “certified and verified” it. The letter told him to act immediately to get the money. Otherwise, his millions would be given to somebody else. He’d talked with the so-called officials, who wanted him to pay $500 in fees to claim his (ahem) prize.

But here’s the thing: the FTC doesn’t give free prizes, certify prizes, or verify prizes. Anyone who says we do is lying and trying to get your money. And companies that give free prizes don’t charge you to collect your winnings. Anyone who asks you to pay for a prize will take your money, but you’ll never get the promised pay-out.

Scammers are good at making their tall tales seem real. This man’s letter looked real, with a picture of our building and our seal. But the important parts are fake: the FTC does not certify or validate prizes. And we don’t call, email or write to ask you for money for any reason. So: if you get a letter like this, that’s a scam. Tell the FTC. If anybody asks you to pay them – or give your bank account or credit card number – to claim a prize, that’s a scam. Tell the FTC. And if anybody says you must pay by wiring money or buying a gift card, that’s a scam. Always. And tell the FTC.

If ever you wonder about a letter, call, or message that says you’ve won (or that you must pay for some other reason), do what this man did. Stop and check it out. Talk to someone you trust. Sign up for our scam alerts to keep up with the latest scams – and, when you spot one: tell the FTC.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

June 22, 2018
The websites publishing our private information are enabling these skammers into our lives,with names, addresses phone #, assets!,ss#,relatives,etc. Crooks know all before they call! HELP!!
June 25, 2018

In reply to by Sweetkitty

Your name, address, and phone number are often public domain. Careful what you share. Many people are listening in public places and seeing social media.
June 25, 2018

In reply to by Sweetkitty

Be careful with the info you share with people. Especially scam blocking apps. A lot of them take your phone's info and sells it to these websites like
June 25, 2018

I ALMOST fell for it! Yesterday was my 68th Birthday & I really should have been smarter. They're working together on Facebook & there's a phone number attached to the lady on Facebook Messenger.

Her name is Susan Isssac. The phone number associated with the lady from Facebook is: (404) 900-0906 I have their messages saved on my cell phone. It's regarding 'Federal Government Grant Money' - JUST AS YOU HAVE DESCRIBED !! PLEASE HELP ME !! I'm VERY ashamed of myself; I live BELOW FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL, I can Barely keep my head above water & I can't even afford Homeowners Insurance. They have my address and email address & I'm afraid to use Facebook. I'm sending this on my laptop.

June 25, 2018
I blocked a Robert Wilson on Facebook and Messenger as he is a scammer. I reported it to the FTC and Facebook.
June 25, 2018
What does the FTC do when these cases are reported? Ae the scammers ever caught?
June 25, 2018
TANSTAAFL coined by Robert heinlein! There ain't no such thing as a free lunch!
Kenneth J
June 25, 2018

I get these everyday.Today several by 9:00 AM.Three were in English,as three had the instructions used the foreign alphabet that has the symbol-type letter, like mid_east, western Europe like Romania, Czech, Croatia,etc. Really stupid scammers.If the symbol letters could be converted to our alphabet,the words could likely not be interpreted. Want to know how to forward them to FTC.Spent most of my career as corporate lawyer, dealt w. FTC many times on proposed mergers,etc.Then as CEO of two large publicly-held corporate, technology of e-mail is not a strength.

Suzy q
June 25, 2018
I have tracked my calls this month and it is already past fifty scam or fraudulent calls so far and it is not the end of the month yet. I block the numbers but they just use another one. This is very annoying and and I am on the do not call list. HELP!
June 25, 2018
Even air ain't "free".
diane in wisconsin
June 25, 2018

I have received so many scams to my email and phone, breakins to my house stealing my birth certificate and information.not safe anywhere.

June 25, 2018
Today I received a call advising that criminal activity has been filed against my social security number by the state of Texas. It seems a car was stolen in Texas and was found by US Marshals. Inside was blood,cocaine and my social security number. They asked for my SSC and I gave them a fake number which they confirmed was found in the car. They asked for my name and DOD which was also fake. They confirmed all that I gave them and said the state of Texas was investigating me for criminal activity of drug traffic and money laundering and were going to freeze my bank accounts within 24 hours and for to withdraw the money and purchase government bonds. At thin point I terminated the call. The contact number was 253-265-9340
June 26, 2018
I get a lot of emails that claim they have money for me! Millions of dollars! I know they are just scams so I forward the email to FTC!
helping seniors
July 19, 2018
A James Parker called me from FTC/Financial Dept saying I would need to pay $4500. to an Insurance Co to collect a National Sweepstakes winning amount of $450,000, $4500. being the 1% to pay the insurance co for delivery. His phone # is 202 470 3648. Did not find a James Parker in your phone directory
Chris B
February 21, 2019
I received a call from Mr. Robert Nelson of Publishers Clearing House. His number was 1-876-420-9160. To get my $7.5M and my new Mercedes I was required to call his associate Debbie Collins at 623-300-0186 to make arrangements for paying a license fee of $750 at Walmart (it would be refunded when the Prize Patrol delivered my prize).
Chris B
February 21, 2019
Publishers Clearing House just awarded me $7.M and a new Mercedes Benz. All for the low cost of a money transfer of $750 at Walmart! Yes. I’m still poor. I decided I didn’t need $7.5M enough to drive to Walmart.
Txforever use …
August 26, 2021
Tonight I received a call from John McGuire from Readers Digest stating I had won 25 million and a Mercedes Benz. After a long spill, he told me in order to receive such a large amount, I would have to call ftc and certify my prizes,otherwise, I could not collect. Thank you FTC for posting that the FTC does not certify winnings,etc.