Police warn of check scam

Published 12:07 am Saturday, August 21, 2010

Local residents should be wary of a potential fraudulent check scheme in the area, say local law enforcement representatives.

This warning comes after a local resident received a check for $3,927.21 in the mail this week.

The check was mailed with a letter stating the recipient had won a $250,000 sweepstakes prize in a United Kingdom drawing and would have to pay $2,970 in taxes in order to receive the prize.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The letter provided a phone number to call in order to set up payment for the “applicable taxes,” and instructed the recipient not to cash the check until the taxes were paid.

Troy Police Department Sgt. Benny Scarbrough said based on other instances he discovered, the check is almost certainly fraudulent.

“We received some information Thursday from an individual who received a check in the mail, and she advised that she felt it was a scam. This individual had a background as a letter carrier, so once she turned it over to me, I did some background investigation,” Scarbrough said. I would say the check is no good. Based on the other instances I found that occurred last year in Ohio and Louisiana, it would appear as if this is getting ready to start happening again in various places.”

The instances Scarbrough spoke of occurred in Wilmington, Ohio, and Concordia Parish, La., and both involved people receiving checks in the mail from a sweepstakes claiming to have been organized by Netflix International and Global promotions.

The letter sent to the Troy recipient also claimed to be on behalf of a sweepstakes organized by Netflix International, but in conjunction with “Globe,” rather than “Global,” promotions.

“When you compare this to the instances in Ohio and Louisiana, it bears a striking resemblance, especially in what the letter from Dominion Enterprise Inc., instructs the recipient to do,” Scarbrough said.

While the sweepstakes claimed to have been organized by Netflix International and a promotions company, both the letter and the check come from Dominion Enterprise, Inc.

However, the letter bears a Canadian address, while the check bears an Oregon address.

The check and the letter came in a sealed envelope addressed to the recipient by name, and the check was also made out to the recipient. The envelope was stamped with a $1 Canadian stamp.

However, despite the personally addressed documents, Scarbrough said anyone who receives a similar document should be cautious.

“The thing is when people see the check and they see the letter that says ‘winning final notification,’ they need to be cautious, rather than excited,” Scarbrough said.

If the check is cashed, and the funds are spent before the check can be verified, it could then be the responsibility of the recipient of the check to reimburse their bank for the false check.

“The main thing is they do not need to cash this check,” Scarbrough said. “The check is no good, and anyone who cashes it would probably wind up being liable to the bank where they cashed it.”

Rather, Scarbrough said any checks received matching the description of the fraudulent ones should either be shredded or turned in to TPD.

“The best way to dispose of it is to have it shredded, but if people want to bring it to us and let us dispose of it for them, it might help give us a better idea of how many are circulating throughout the area,” Scarbrough said.

Scarbrough said there were identity theft concerns associated with the cashing of fraudulent checks, and that TPD would be turning over any information gathered to the Federal Trade Commission.