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FBI Targets Bogus $1 Million Oprah Winfrey Giveaway

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The FBI and Oprah Winfrey herself, through a message on her Web site, are warning fans to beware of scams that fraudulently use the TV queen’s name in a fake $1 million giveaway.

Among the latest is the “Oprah Millionaire Contest Show,” in which recipients are informed they have been “nominated” to appear on an episode of Winfrey’s show where $1 million will be awarded. They are further told they must purchase – from the sender of the message – a transportation ticket to Chicago and pay to get into the show.

One such alleged scammer – apparently, “at least a dozen” exist, according to the Winfrey Web site – lists its return address as “Harpo Productions” at Studio 54 in Seattle. Winfrey’s operations, which are indeed called Harpo Productions, are based in Chicago – and its show tickets are free.

The real Harpo Productions has issued a statement emphasizing that the company and the show “are not sponsors nor do we have any involvement whatsoever with this e-mail solicitation.”

Individuals who receive such unauthorized solicitations are urged to file a report with the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which “accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the person who believes they were defrauded or from a third party to the complainant,” says its Web site.