The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday obtained a court order freezing the bank accounts of a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., couple accused of bilking thousands of consumers nationwide in one of the country's biggest postcard scams.
The FTC alleged that Scott and Linda Wilcox, operating under such names as Award Notification Center and Sweepstakes Control Bureau, sent consumers solicitations offering them bogus prizes in return for a $10 to $20 "processing fee." In documents filed in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale, the FTC said the Wilcoxes sent out 700,000 postcards during a recent four-month period and received 500 responses a day--for an estimated take of $45,000 a week.
The Wilcoxes could not be reached for comment. A recording at their Ft. Lauderdale company, Direct Response Inc., said no one was in the office. The FTC alleges that the Wilcoxes have run the scam since at least 1990.
The agency said the Wilcoxes engaged in two types of schemes. In one, it said, they sent consumers solicitations telling them that a large sum of money--a tax refund or a sweepstakes prize--was being held in their names. In the second, solicitations told consumers they had won a "valuable product" such as a Cadillac. In both cases, consumers had to pay a "processing fee" to claim the award, the FTC said.
The agency said it did not yet know how much money was in the Wilcoxes' accounts.