Following a Next-Gen sweepstakes scheme that defrauded over 240,000 consumers, the US Federal Trade Commission is shelling out nearly $25 million in reimbursements to the victims.
The money, obtained in a settlement with the operators of the sweepstakes, is being repaid to 244,745 people across the globe via checks in the US and Canada, Mastercard debit cards in the UK and PayPal payments in 50 other countries, the FTC said Tuesday.
The deadline to cash checks or claim PayPal payments is Oct. 17. The Mastercard debit cards in the UK have a two-year usage period before expiring.
The sweepstakes scheme saw Kevin Brandes, William Graham, C. Floyd Anderson and their corporations send out mailers telling people they’d won a cash prize, sometimes as much as $2 million, in return for paying a fee of between $9 and $140, the FTC said. Many victims paid the fee multiple times before realizing it was a scam, according to the FTC, which charged Brandes and Anderson in 2018. The global scheme had been running since 2013 and affected many senior citizens, the agency said.
The FTC has since had its authority to seek refunds on behalf of consumers removed by a Supreme Court ruling in 2021. It has urged Congress to restore this authority.