A local retired police investigator was targeted earlier this month but he became suspicious after checking some of the information on a letter he received from the Alliance Financial Group.
The letter claimed that the financial group is a division of the Publishers Clearing House and it states that the recipient has won $155,000 in the Family Publishing Sweepstake Drawing.
The letter went on to claim that the sweepstakes was organized for Reader’s Digest, Energy and Telephone subscribers. A check for $3,870.40 was enclosed.
The victim was directed to call a phone number and speak to a claims agent to activate his check so he could claim the remainder of his prize, $151,129.60.
But the intended victim already had years of experience in dealing with such scams and he began doing some investigating.
The first clues he found were a Wall Street, New York address and a Pacific Standard Time phone number. Also, there was no return address on the envelope and it was postmarked in Canada with a Canadian stamp.
That out-of-country connection was a huge clue that the letter was a fake.
The letter instructed him to contact a claims agent and provided a phone number for the contact.
When the intended victim checked the location of the phone number, it showed an address in New Westminster, British Columbia.
“What they would’ve done is ask me to send them a money order for a small amount of money to activate the check,” the intended victim said.
The check showed it was issued by State Farm County Mutual Insurance of Texas on an account from “JPMORGAN CHASE BANK in Columbus, OH,” the victim said.
The investigator said his bank would have deposited the check in his account but it would have bounced eventually and he would have been bilked out of the money he sent to the so-called agent.
Assistant Police Chief Kenneth Jefferson said it’s easy to spot a scam of that type.
If a company writes to say you have won a prize, they send you the prize, Jefferson said.
“No legitimate company is going to ask you to send them money to activate a check,” the chief stressed.
Any time anyone receives a letter in the mail saying a prize has been won that includes a check for a part of the amount and asking for the winner to contact someone and arrange payment of the remainder of the prize, it is a scam, he said.
Disregard the letter, throw it away or report it to the police.