Reporting Mass Marketing Fraud

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Fake checks, foreign lotteries and sweepstakes schemes are just a few examples of mass marketing fraud. These schemes are characterized by the use of false promises of cash prizes, services, goods or good works in exchange for fees, donations or purchases. Scams may be committed through the mail, telephone, email, television or any other form of mass or individual communication.

If you believe you have been a victim of mass marketing or another type of fraud, we recommend taking these steps to help you move forward.

  1. Create a Fraud File. Start by collecting all relevant documentation concerning the fraud in one file that's kept in a secure location. The file should include:
    • a contact sheet of the perpetrator's name, mail and email addresses, telephone numbers and website address, as well as any of the fraudster's purported regulatory registration numbers;
    • a timeline of events, which may span many years;
    • the police report, if any;
    • your most recent credit report from all three credit reporting companies;
    • any evidence of the fraud or deception;
    • logs of any phone conversations, with dates, names and phone numbers of any representatives with whom you spoke, and notes on what information they gave you;
    • and any other relevant documentation concerning the fraud.
  2. Know Your Rights. You have rights imparted by federal and in some cases, state law. Learn about your rights to better protect yourself.
    • For federal victim rights, the U.S. Department of Justice provides information on victim rights and financial fraud.
    • For state victim rights, check with your state Attorney General.
  3. Report to the Appropriate Agencies. It is important to report mass marketing fraud, no matter the amount in question. The more reports that are made, the easier it is for authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable. Depending on whether the fraud was perpetrated by mail, using wire transfers, or over the Internet, report to the following agencies:
  4. Report the Fraud to Law Enforcement. Reporting the investment fraud to law enforcement is important to begin the recovery process, ensure the responsible parties are investigated, and prevent further damage to other individuals.
    • Local Law Enforcement: Contact any local law enforcement office to file a police report.
    • District Attorney: Contact your local District Attorney’s Office.
    • Attorney General: Contact your Attorney General’s Consumer Protection unit and the prosecution unit to report the fraud.
    • Federal Law Enforcement: Contact your local FBI Field Office or submit an online tip.
  5. Report the Fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. To file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), contact the FTC's Complaint Assistant. Lodging a complaint will also enter the fraud into the Consumer Sentinel Network so that law enforcement can stop ongoing fraud and track these crimes. This process will not initiate a criminal investigation of your case.
  6. Consider Civil Remedies. Civil attorneys who work for victims of financial fraud can analyze the particular facts and circumstances of your case and counsel you on the available civil remedies. The National Crime Victim Bar Association can provide referrals to attorneys who litigate on behalf of victims of crime and who offer initial consultations at no cost or obligation.
  7. Follow up. Review the steps you've taken and follow up after 30 days with any law enforcement agencies or organizations that serve victims. 

For details about how to recover from other types of financial fraud, see our full list of Victim Recovery Checklists.