Beware Sweepstakes Counterfeit Check Scam
Bogus Prize Check
Direct mail scam bogus check hopes to trick unwary into sending in "claim processing" money to claim prize. This check is worthless, says the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office.
by Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
November 25, 2008
The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office today (Tuesday, November 25) issued a citizen advisory regarding a direct-mail scam that is being circulated in the county.
Sheriff Rich Haskell said that a number of Sweetwater County residents have received individually-addressed letters from an organization calling itself the "Publishers Sweepstakes Commission, Inc." that informs them they have won $500,000 in a special sweepstakes. Included in the letter is what appears to be a genuine check, usually for $4,922.00 or a similar amount, made out to the recipients, who are informed in the letter that they need only deposit the check and contact the "North American Claims Agent" for the "Sweepstakes" to initiate the process and enable them to claim their winnings.
"It’s a confidence scheme from start to finish," Haskell said. "It’s just another version of the sweepstakes/counterfeit check scam. The check is a worthless counterfeit, though it appears genuine. When victims contact the bogus "Claims Agent," they are instructed to mail or wire a hefty fee - commonly $2,000 to $3,000 - for "processing" or to "cover administrative expenses." That’s where the sting is - the victims send out their own money before they discover the check they’ve deposited is counterfeit and by then their money is gone."
Haskell said that in this instance, scammers are probably employing a strategy that is grounded in timing. "It’s the holiday season," he explained. "That’s what makes it so heartless. These people are counting on victims who want to provide their families a nice Christmas, and the phony Sweepstakes letter seems to provide the means to do it."
Haskell recommended that caution should always be exercised when communications of this sort are received. "As always, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is."
For more information contact: Detective Dick Blust, Jr., Public Information Officer, Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Green River/Rock Springs, Phone: (307) 922-5294 or (307) 350-4016, firstname.lastname@example.org