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Mare Street firm Prizeology launches campaign warning against fake lotteries and prize draw scams

PUBLISHED: 12:25 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:25 16 October 2017

Sarah Burns (centre) with her colleagues. Picture: Prizeology

Sarah Burns (centre) with her colleagues. Picture: Prizeology

Prizeology

A Mare Street business founder who made her name running prize draws for other firms has launched a campaign to stop people falling victim to scams.

Sarah Burns, who runs Prizeology, was spurred to take action after spotting self-evident cons being shared by people on her Facebook page.

“It annoyed me people could be so naive to think companies like Disney were giving away trips or Apple were giving away 1,000 iPads,” said Sarah. “They didn’t spell things correctly, they only had 60 followers and it clearly wasn’t Apple.

“I realised that people were spending thousands of pounds trying to claim prizes that didn’t exist, and I thought: ‘This is something we as an agency can really get behind – we are industry experts and can help educate consumers.’”

Among the most common scams are fake lotteries and prize draws, where criminals might trick people with official-looking documents or websites into paying a fake admin fee, paying bogus postal or insurance costs or making premium rate phone calls.

Sarah, who has worked in the industry for 20 years, has come up with some top tips to help people differentiate legitimate prize promotions and the scams.

While the closing dates for real prize promotions are exact, scams will put you under pressure to reply.

No genuine prize draw or competition will ever ask for a processing fee to release your “prize”, and you can’t “win” a lottery or prize draw if you did not enter it in the first place.

Sarah said: “People can kill themselves as a result of giving away their life savings because of the shame of it, and the scale of it is enormous.

“The information age we are in means these things are getting worse. There are multiple ways you can contact people and scam them, but if it sounds too good to be true it probably is – it’s a cliché for a reason.”

Sarah is planning a big campaign next year backed by National Trading Standards’ scams team, and hopes to get a big brand sponsor to help cover the cost.

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