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Fool's gold, modern life, and Greed Inc. page 3
Don't be fooled by those sweepstakes scams

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Date published: 8/28/2005



Thanks to all of you. It's nice to know we won't have to worry about house payments, college savings, or paying for new cars. In fact, I'm going to go and quit my job right now. Thanks for letting me know that working for a living is for losers, and not for us sweepstakes winners!

P.S. Just to be perfectly clear, all of these crackpot jackpot notices--and this is just a recent sampling--came to my mom, who, at 85, is a typical recipient, according to the government and various consumer advocacy agencies.

These companies prey on older Americans by using legalese and official-looking documents that draw them into scams that quickly multiply themselves. Enter one, and your name and address appear to be shared by all.

Many older people are particularly concerned about the possibility of losing an opportunity or missing a deadline. For some, the size of the estate they will pass along is a report card on the success of their lives--and here is a last chance to build on it.

"This matter is extremely time sensitive and requires your immediate attention," says one letter.

"Voucher must be postmarked by the date below or you forfeit all claims," says another.

"Do not delay. Mail this form at once. Response required," insists still another.

"You will definitely receive the entire [amount] in cash and awards." Can it be more deceiving than that?

These operations legitimize themselves by including disclaimers to cover their legal bases, and by citing laws that require all funds to be distributed. They probably consider it an honest way to make a buck. They ask people to send in money, and people voluntarily send money in.

But that doesn't stop others from warning people against such scams, or from labeling such "entrepreneurs" as some of the planet's lowest life forms.

The first rule of eradicating vermin is to remove the source of sustenance, or in this case, to deny these people the money that allows them to remain active and proliferate.

It's junk mail, so just throw it away.

P.P.S. I was just kidding about quitting my job. Heh, heh.

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.

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