March 7, 2016 by Canadian Underwriter
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is warning consumers about a mail scam conducted by an unlicensed company, Onward Assurance Financial Services.
This company has issued notices advising recipients that they are among the winners of a U.S. Telecommunication Lottery Sweepstakes Draw or Home Phone Mega Raffle, FSCO said in a press release last week.
The company, and others previously identified as operating the same scam, claim to be working on behalf of the Multi-State Lottery/Gaming Association to find winners that have not claimed their winnings and to help them navigate the laws and protocols mandated by federal and state regulations on sweepstakes winnings.
Others previously identified as operating the same scam – known as an advance fee fraud – include Cornerstone Assurance Brokers Inc., Landmark Assurance Financial Services, Christopher Banks Brokerage and Financial Services, Christopher and Banks Financial Services Credit Union Inc. and Northern Assurance Brokerage & Financial Services. FSCO noted in the press release that Cornerstone Assurance Brokers Inc. is not affiliated or associated with Cornerstone Insurance Brokers Ltd., which is licensed by the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO). And Northern Assurance Brokerage & Financial Services is not affiliated or associated with Northern Insurance Brokers Inc., which is also licensed by RIBO.
“It should be noted that although these companies appear legitimate and may have similar names to registered companies, they are not registered or affiliated with FSCO or the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario (RIBO),” FSCO warned.
The regulator explained that the company sends the recipient a cheque – supposedly to help pay taxes, insurance, handling and shipping fees – and urges them to contact the claims representative listed on the document to activate the cheque and start the claims process.
The office addresses provided on the notices are often false locations and advertise themselves as the Division of Unclaimed Funds, FSCO said in the release. In at least one case, the office was an old Allstate Canada address, even though Onward Assurance Financial Services is not affiliated or associated with Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, which is licenced with FSCO.
Consumers should exercise caution if they receive unsolicited correspondence advising of lottery, sweepstakes or raffle winnings, and are encouraged to forward copies of the materials received to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.