Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice: FTC Again Settles Charges With Sweepstakes Promoter

FTC vs. Puzzles UnlimtedThe FTC has announced that it has settled charges with sweepstakes promoter, Crystal Ewing, which allege she violated a previous court order to run a sweepstakes scam. According to the proposed FTC settlement, in 2007, Ewing and other defendants were banned from prize promotions as part of a deal with the FTC to settle charges they deceptively convinced consumers in the U.S., Canada, and the UK to send money to collect large cash prizes that, in fact, never existed. The FTC claims that Puzzles Unlimited used direct mail ads to entice consumers to enter promotions by using terms like “Notice of Grand Prize Payout” and “Grand Prize Guaranteed,” which led consumers to believe they had already won thousands of dollars and just needed to fill out a form containing a simple puzzle and submit a “processing fee” of $10 to $15. However, the vast majority of consumers say they didn’t receive a payout of any kind. Instead, they tell the FTC they continued to receive additional rounds of puzzles that they were told they must complete correctly in order to claim the prize money.

Under the new proposed settlement, Ewing admits that she violated the 2007 order through her work with another FTC defendant, Glen Burke, and Puzzles Unlimited LLC, which allegedly duped consumers with the promise of sweepstakes winnings in exchange for processing fees. In addition to the judgment, Ewing is once again banned from making material misrepresentations about goods and services, and from profiting from, and failing to properly dispose of, customers’ personal information.