Bogus prize draws dupe thousandsGovernment steps in to stop mailings

15 October 2007

Consumers have once again been warned to stay clear of bogus prize draws after more than 60,000 were duped by the latest misleading mailings to hit the UK.

South African prize draw promoter Gateway Direct, operating under the name 'Beverly Hills Jewelry', sent 760,000 prize draw mailings to UK consumers between March and July this year.

Recipients were told they'd won a £20,000 cash prize when in fact they'd only been entered into a draw with a small chance of winning the prize.

The mailings urged them to respond immediately and encouraged them to place an order for jewellery from an accompanying brochure when claiming their prize.

Jewellery orders

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found that more than 22,000 UK consumers had placed orders for the jewellery.

Two further Gateway Direct mailings also misled people into thinking they had won a major prize.

Sent out under the name 'Prize Verification Services' and 'Award Distribution Centre', nearly 40,000 consumers responded by sending a processing fee of up to £10 to claim their prize.

The Office of Fair Trading contacted Gateway Direct which has agreed not send any further prize draw mailings to UK consumers.

Cash prizes

Mike Haley, Head of Consumer Protection at the OFT, said: ‘The OFT will continue to act to stop misleading prize draw mailings. We advise consumers to think carefully before responding to mailings that claim they have won large cash prizes.'