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NEWS-SUN, EVENING STAR & HERALD-
REPUBLICAN

 Sweepstakes 'scams' unveiled through series

Originally printed in The Evening Star 1/2/99

By CINDY BEVINGTON

ANGOLA - You, CINDY BEVINGTON, are a GUARANTEED winner!

For anyone who has ever received a mailing from Publisher's Clearing House, American Family Publishers, United States Purchasing Exchange, Readers Digest or any one of dozens of other sweepstakes offerings, these personalized, capitalized, sensationalized greetings are exciting news.

But is the "guarantee" really what it seems?

Indiana's Attorney General Jeff Modisett doesn't think so, and neither do the nation's 49 other state attorneys general.

In fact, deceptive sweepstakes prize claims have become such a problem, causing thousands of people to spend money they don't have - sometimes draining their bank accounts in hopes of winning the dream - that the attorneys general this year formed a special committee to address the issue.

Last week Modisett, the committee's chairman, announced that the attorneys general will hold a national hearing Feb. 24 in Indianapolis to expose the abuses of the sweepstakes industry and explore ways to reform the deceptive practices the industry uses to sell the products.

By telephone Thursday morning, Modisett told The Evening Star that this reformation could come in the form of both legislation and litigation. "In Indiana, we have already decided to sue American Family Publishers," Modisett said.

"And now we're looking closely at Publisher's Clearing House, United States Purchasing Exchange also is on our list to look at, and Reader's Digest and about five others.

"What we want to do right now is hear from anybody who has lost money trying to win something from a sweepstakes - everybody."

Modisett said he'd already heard of one person who had spent $100,000 trying to win the "guaranteed" prize of one sweepstakes company's offerings. He knows there are others out there, he said.

Locally, The Evening Star heard of two people who have lost money on contest sweepstakes and interviewed them and their families or personal representative. Our four-part series shows readers the tragedy of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises of the sweepstakes industry.

STAR REPORTER'S SWEEPSTAKES SERIES WINS NATIONAL AWARD

 


EXCLUSIVE TO THIS WEB SITE:

A letter to The Evening Star editor from Indiana's Attorney General

Want to read another paper's stories about sweepstake scams?

Why do the elderly seem more susceptible to believing sweepstakes promises? Two experts give their opinions

Why do the elderly seem more susceptible to believing sweepstakes promises? A gerontologist shares his studies.

Iowa has seen it before

National issue, local example, big news

Persons to contact if you believe you may be the victim of a sweepstakes scam:

National Association of Attorneys General
750 First Street, NE, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20002
PH: (202) 326-6000
FAX: (202) 408-7014

Office of Attorney General
Steve Carter

402 W. Washington St.
Fifth Floor
Indianapolis, IN 46204
PH: (317) 232-6201
FAX: (317) 232-7979

National Fraud Information Center 1-800-876-7060

National
Consumer's League
1-202-835-3323

Federal Trade Commission 1-877-382-4357
(toll free)

E-mail
Cindy Bevington
or Evening Star
editor Dave Kurtz.

WATCH FOR ADDITIONAL STORIES EXCLUSIVE TO THIS WEB SITE!

 


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