Scam Alert: So what’s a person to do when they receive a letter claiming they have won unclaimed lottery monies with a check enclosed and payable to the recipient? Big Country
goes on to explain…
This is the question one unlucky victim wishes he had explored directly with law enforcement, and one that might have prevented the victim’s involvement in a recent fraud investigation that has now grown across state lines to Utah.
Earlier this month a victim sought the help of Abilene Police Department’s (APD) Fraud Unit after the victim realized that he had been scammed by perpetrators of a letter promising lottery winnings from a contractor for the Multi-State Lottery Association. The letter promised winnings in the amount of $420,000 and a “claims” process involving “representatives” in the victim’s area.
To those previously victimized, and to law enforcement, this letter was rank with deception. The victim clearly mentioned his desire to remain anonymous, but did express his desire that his story be told in the hopes that others would not fall for the same con.
Here are some of the details involved: the victim, an elderly man, believed that a check attached to the lottery letter was real and he took steps to validate the purported winnings by contacting the person indicated in the letter.
The victim called the telephone number indicated in the letter and was advised by a male subject to deposit the enclosed check, payable to the victim, and to then forward a portion of the original check amount to the same person at a Utah address via a cashier’s check.
The victim deposited the check (a counterfeit) and then mailed the cashier’s check via an overnight express carrier. After receipt of the cashier’s check, the perpetrator contacted the victim and informed the victim that another check was now needed in the amount of $9,520. Again, the victim honored the request and sent the second cashier’s check payable to the same person.
The victim was subsequently advised by his financial institution that the check he had deposited several days earlier was returned because the account the check was drawn against had been frozen. This eventually led to the current investigation.
There is a silver lining in this case. The male suspect that attempted to cash the victim’s cashier’s check in the amount of $9,520 dealt with a clerk at a check cashing business in Utah. The clerk became suspicious and the encounter led the clerk to contact the victim’s financial institution and the victim’s spouse. This delay caused the male subject to eventually leave the business with the victim’s cashier’s check, and in turn, spawned an investigation initiated by APD’s Fraud Unit.
Because of the concerned clerk in Utah, and with an investigation being led by the police agency in Utah, the suspect that attempted to cash the victim’s cashier’s check was identified, contacted by the Utah police department, and the victim’s cashier’s check was surrendered by the involved suspect.
It is extremely rare that such fraud investigations produce positive results because of the difficulties involved in investigating and solving interstate crimes.
The Utah police agency involved believes they are best equipped to file a felony case with their District Attorney against the suspect identified.
The moral of the story remains the same and as a community we need to spread the word: Never give money to get money. When in doubt, our community should alert their financial institution or their local police department with such matters to help identify a potential fraud. Doing so may prevent a person from experiencing costly loss that is rarely recoverable.
APD and our local Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourage our community to learn about the hundreds of scams exploiting consumers across America.