March 2, 2016
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.
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.
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.
The office addresses provided on the notices are often false locations and advertise themselves as the Division of Unclaimed Funds. 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.
This type of scam is commonly known as an advance fee fraud.
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 .
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'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.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Senior Communications Officer
Toll free: 1-800-668-0128, ext. 7795
TTY Toll Free: 1-800-387-0584
Additional InformationWhat to Do If You Think You Are a Victim of a Scam or Fraud