Recently, a very smart client of mine received a letter in the mail that informed her that she’d won hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lottery that she’d not actually entered. The letter came with a very official looking check for several thousand dollars, drawn on a well-known bank’s letterhead.
The letter told her that it was the “FINAL NOTICE OF PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS.”
The letter informed her that all she needed to do was cash the check, to help her “take care of insurance, security coverage, and attorney’s fees.” Then, because she was such a special winner, someone would actually deliver the balance of her winnings to her very door.
Of course, the letter made it clear that she had to respond within a few days. It even came with a 1-800 number that she could call to start the claim process.
If you get a letter like this, please understand that this is yet another lottery scam that preys on people who would very much love to gain a windfall, often seniors. Cashing a fraudulent check will result in your having to cover the amount of the check, and may provide the scammers with information about your bank account. Calling the 800 number is most likely to reveal your phone number to scammers, who keep lists of people susceptible to such scams and may increase the number of such scams headed your way. Responding via email is likely to get you on a list used by other scammers.
In the words of USA MEGA, the company that runs the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries, “you cannot win a prize for a contest that you did not enter. They go on to tell you that the scam always boils down to this: they want you to send them money…they are trying to get you to send your real money from your bank account for the fake check that they sent to you.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that international lottery scams such as this one have collected more than $100 million dollars a year from U.S. residents lured by the offer of instant wealth.
If you do get a letter like this:
1. Do not cash the fake check.
2. Do not call the 800 number listed.
3. Do not email any address listed.
Just throw the letter away.