The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is warning consumers about a mail scam conducted by an unlicensed company, Prudential Financial Clearing 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 public alert on Tuesday.
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, FSCO explained in the alert.
The company sends the recipient a cheque – supposedly to help pay taxes, insurance, handling and shipping fees – and urges the recipient to contact the claims representative listed on the document to activate the cheque and start the claims process. This type of scam is commonly known as an advance fee fraud.
The office addresses provided on the notices are often false locations and advertise themselves as the Division of Unclaimed Funds, the alert said, noting that Prudential Financial Clearing Services is not affiliated or associated with The Prudential Insurance Company of America or any of its associated entities which are licensed 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, the alert said.
It should also 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’s website contains a list of all insurance companies and agents licensed to do business in Ontario. RIBO’s website contains a list of all brokers licensed to do business in Ontario.