Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited December 9, 2016, 6:13 pm
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

Lottery-check scams get more seductive, ingenious

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Lottery-check scams get more seductive, ingenious

By Paul Wenske
Kansas City Star

Those lousy lottery-check scams are mutating again and ensnaring more unsuspecting consumers.

But first, folks, you just shouldn't fall for these goofy scams. No honest lottery in the world gives out free money.

That said, the scams are increasing. And they offer sneaky new twists to create a false sense of security. More scams are using counterfeit checks drawn on legitimate bank accounts of real businesses.

Reader Mary Kay Culp of Lenexa alerted me to one bogus check she and her husband got from the National Lottery Co. of New York. The lottery said the Culps could use the check, in the amount of $4,750.25, to pay a 12 percent surcharge required to secure their winnings.

That was the first clue the check was fraudulent. Honest lotteries do not require surcharges or other upfront fees.

But these scam artists veil their ruse by making their victims believe they are doing them a favor. "By law you are not required to pay for your winning on any lottery with your personal money (sic) that's why we enclosed a check to cover your surcharges," the lottery letter said.

The Culps just needed to deposit the check in their bank, then wire a payment to cover the surcharge. What could be easier? In 72 hours they'd receive their $250,000 in winnings

The Culps didn't fall for it — though they did pause over the scammers' ingenuity.

"There is this tiny little voice inside you that says, ‘What if this is true?' But there is a louder voice that says, ‘Of course this is not true,' " joked Culp.

What made the check even more convincing is that, unlike more amateurish efforts, it didn't come from the lottery.

Instead, it purported to come from DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc., a real company that, in fact, handles marketing for the New York Lottery. And it was drawn on The Northern Trust Co. of Chicago. By all appearances, it is a legitimate check. In fact, it is a good counterfeit, authorities said.

A DDB spokeswoman said her company is not associated with the National Lottery Co. Indeed, authorities said, the National Lottery Co. doesn't even exist.

"It's really sneaky because if you called the bank they would confirm the real company had an account there and they might even confirm there is enough in the account to cover the check," said Susan Grant, head of the National Consumers League, which monitors lottery-check frauds.

Authorities say the scammers work out of Ontario, Canada, and call consumers to verify their winnings using cell phones so they can't be traced to any one location.

Allan Weiss, a Toronto lawyer, said businesses whose checks have been stolen also have been defrauded. He has gone to court to force telephone providers to shut down phone numbers used by the scams.

"It's almost like a drug deal," said Barry Elliott, coordinator of Phone Busters, an anti-fraud center operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police Department.

He said the scammers steal real company checks from the mail. They then use sophisticated techniques to wash ink off the checks and write in consumer names, which they buy on the Internet.

Duped consumers think they are getting legitimate checks. Many presume if their bank accepts the checks, they must be good and they are cleared to withdraw money from their account.

But that's a mistake. Even if a bank deposits a check in a consumer's account, that doesn't mean the check has cleared.

It actually takes weeks for a check to clear. That's because the consumer's bank won't know whether the check is good until it is presented for payment to the bank on which it is drawn.

By then, a consumer has wired the money to the scammers. Inevitably these checks bounce. The scammers get their money. But the victims get nothing. And legally they are liable to their bank for the bounced check.

Why are consumers still falling for this? "A lot of customers are not aware of the scam," said Mark Miller, executive vice president of Premier Bank in Lenexa.

Like a growing number of banks, Premier has put up signs warning customers of the scam and its consequences. The warnings can short-circuit the fraud before it happens.

"Every bank large and small should do the same," Grant said.

How to protect yourself from check scams How to protect yourself

  • If you unexpectedly get a check, it's probably a scam.
  • If you cash the check, you will be liable for the full amount if it bounces.
  • If the check bounces, your account may be frozen.
  • If you must deposit the check, wait until you know it has cleared to cash it.
  • If you have questions, ask your teller or a bank official.

To report a scam

Kansas City Star

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

14 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by hsvscubaski.
Page 1 of 1
Avatar
Coastal Georgia
United States
Member #2653
October 30, 2003
1866 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 28, 2006, 3:07 pm - IP Logged

Remember folks...

If it is too good to be true then it is too good to be true...

 

                               

              

 

 

    Avatar
    Columbia City, Indiana
    United States
    Member #2978
    December 9, 2003
    381 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: August 28, 2006, 3:57 pm - IP Logged

    DoubleDown said:

    "If it is too good to be true then it is too good to be true..."

    You're right, DD; this is a no-brainer.

    If you haven't entered the drawing you've just won, or if you discover, after searching your house, that you don't have the ticket alluded to in your "winner's notification," the odds are better than average that you're going to lose more money when you try to collect a non-existent prize to which you're not entitled.

    Being stupid isn't a cheap hobby, and the price rises sharply according to the degree of stupidity to which one aspires.

    Plenty of information on this ruse is readily available, even to those who don't have access to the internet. Despite this, people continue to swallow these scams because they want to believe it's true.

    I'm glad to see that the woman in the article didn't fall for it, but it seems to me that common sense is quickly becoming a misnomer these days...

    Come, Pinky; we must prepare for tomorrow night...

    Jim

      Tenaj's avatar - michellea
      Charlotte NC
      United States
      Member #17406
      June 18, 2005
      4053 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 28, 2006, 4:10 pm - IP Logged

      DoubleDown said:

      "If it is too good to be true then it is too good to be true..."

      You're right, DD; this is a no-brainer.

      If you haven't entered the drawing you've just won, or if you discover, after searching your house, that you don't have the ticket alluded to in your "winner's notification," the odds are better than average that you're going to lose more money when you try to collect a non-existent prize to which you're not entitled.

      Being stupid isn't a cheap hobby, and the price rises sharply according to the degree of stupidity to which one aspires.

      Plenty of information on this ruse is readily available, even to those who don't have access to the internet. Despite this, people continue to swallow these scams because they want to believe it's true.

      I'm glad to see that the woman in the article didn't fall for it, but it seems to me that common sense is quickly becoming a misnomer these days...

      Too bad the government don't spend more money for personell to catch these crooks.  They try to education people and hope that they take heed.  But it seems that the people who get scammed aren't the ones reading the information.  They've been catching some of them lately though. 

      They should get Fed time. 

      takeemtothebank

        alohachief's avatar - animal duck.jpg
        New Member
        Phuket
        Thailand
        Member #45808
        August 28, 2006
        5 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: August 28, 2006, 8:02 pm - IP Logged

        Good morning,

         What happen to the old saying you can take it to the bank? If the bank post the money to your account then it should be your money! Who is being Scammed? The bank makes sure the Con artist get thier money! and when thier mastake is uncovered WHO pay's. If it was the bank this kind of thing would stop!

        Aloha

        Jim

          Avatar
          New Member

          United States
          Member #41808
          June 22, 2006
          19 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: August 28, 2006, 9:47 pm - IP Logged

          By Paul Wenske
          Kansas City Star

          Those lousy lottery-check scams are mutating again and ensnaring more unsuspecting consumers.

          But first, folks, you just shouldn't fall for these goofy scams. No honest lottery in the world gives out free money.

          That said, the scams are increasing. And they offer sneaky new twists to create a false sense of security. More scams are using counterfeit checks drawn on legitimate bank accounts of real businesses.

          Reader Mary Kay Culp of Lenexa alerted me to one bogus check she and her husband got from the National Lottery Co. of New York. The lottery said the Culps could use the check, in the amount of $4,750.25, to pay a 12 percent surcharge required to secure their winnings.

          That was the first clue the check was fraudulent. Honest lotteries do not require surcharges or other upfront fees.

          But these scam artists veil their ruse by making their victims believe they are doing them a favor. "By law you are not required to pay for your winning on any lottery with your personal money (sic) that's why we enclosed a check to cover your surcharges," the lottery letter said.

          The Culps just needed to deposit the check in their bank, then wire a payment to cover the surcharge. What could be easier? In 72 hours they'd receive their $250,000 in winnings

          The Culps didn't fall for it — though they did pause over the scammers' ingenuity.

          "There is this tiny little voice inside you that says, ‘What if this is true?' But there is a louder voice that says, ‘Of course this is not true,' " joked Culp.

          What made the check even more convincing is that, unlike more amateurish efforts, it didn't come from the lottery.

          Instead, it purported to come from DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc., a real company that, in fact, handles marketing for the New York Lottery. And it was drawn on The Northern Trust Co. of Chicago. By all appearances, it is a legitimate check. In fact, it is a good counterfeit, authorities said.

          A DDB spokeswoman said her company is not associated with the National Lottery Co. Indeed, authorities said, the National Lottery Co. doesn't even exist.

          "It's really sneaky because if you called the bank they would confirm the real company had an account there and they might even confirm there is enough in the account to cover the check," said Susan Grant, head of the National Consumers League, which monitors lottery-check frauds.

          Authorities say the scammers work out of Ontario, Canada, and call consumers to verify their winnings using cell phones so they can't be traced to any one location.

          Allan Weiss, a Toronto lawyer, said businesses whose checks have been stolen also have been defrauded. He has gone to court to force telephone providers to shut down phone numbers used by the scams.

          "It's almost like a drug deal," said Barry Elliott, coordinator of Phone Busters, an anti-fraud center operated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police Department.

          He said the scammers steal real company checks from the mail. They then use sophisticated techniques to wash ink off the checks and write in consumer names, which they buy on the Internet.

          Duped consumers think they are getting legitimate checks. Many presume if their bank accepts the checks, they must be good and they are cleared to withdraw money from their account.

          But that's a mistake. Even if a bank deposits a check in a consumer's account, that doesn't mean the check has cleared.

          It actually takes weeks for a check to clear. That's because the consumer's bank won't know whether the check is good until it is presented for payment to the bank on which it is drawn.

          By then, a consumer has wired the money to the scammers. Inevitably these checks bounce. The scammers get their money. But the victims get nothing. And legally they are liable to their bank for the bounced check.

          Why are consumers still falling for this? "A lot of customers are not aware of the scam," said Mark Miller, executive vice president of Premier Bank in Lenexa.

          Like a growing number of banks, Premier has put up signs warning customers of the scam and its consequences. The warnings can short-circuit the fraud before it happens.

          "Every bank large and small should do the same," Grant said.

          How to protect yourself from check scams How to protect yourself

          • If you unexpectedly get a check, it's probably a scam.
          • If you cash the check, you will be liable for the full amount if it bounces.
          • If the check bounces, your account may be frozen.
          • If you must deposit the check, wait until you know it has cleared to cash it.
          • If you have questions, ask your teller or a bank official.

          To report a scam

          I received an e-mail 2 weeks ago saying that I had won The Margaret Thatcher Foundation Lottery Promotion & to send them my info, name,address,state, whether married or single.  It was from an e-mail in the UK and I was to contact them.  Didnt send any info-but told them to send me info via e-mail.  Sure enough they did.  It said that I should contact their courier company-British Air Freight Limited for them to send me the money. Of course the cost would be my responsibility!!!  The original address was in England but the freight address was in Ireland!!!  Sent the info to the FTC and they explained to just delete.  Not to send any personal info because it could be used to get into accounts...SCAM< SCAM!!!  I'd just like to know how they can misrepresent companies like Microsoft & Intel and get away with it.  The e-mail that I got came from Yahoo!!!BS

            LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
            Tennessee
            United States
            Member #7853
            October 15, 2004
            11338 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: August 29, 2006, 8:07 am - IP Logged

            my question is this......

            how can you win if you never played in the first place???

              SassyOhio's avatar - Picture012
              Columbus Ohio
              United States
              Member #35946
              March 25, 2006
              234 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: August 29, 2006, 9:25 am - IP Logged

              Well there is a MILLION dollar question. I agree as well on both parts. Nothing is for nothing and that is JUST what is means. Espeically if you dont enter the darn thing. Of course they can say that they picked your email or name ect out of a hat lol. BUT granted when people are gullable enough to fall for it ( not saying that its bad thing .. things happen ya know) but why does the bank ALLOW to send them the money IF its not a REAL check. Makes no sense to me what so ever. I know that when I put in a check it has to clear at my bank before they allow me to draw funds on it.  Tisk Tisk, everyone just HAS to be realistic when it comes these things.  oh HEY EVERYONE  MUAHHHHHH. 

              Miss Me? Wink

              Hopin To Be The Lucky Ones!!

              COME ON MEGA! MEGA-ME-RICH!

               

              Please feel free to visit my sisters memorial page that I have now completed

              www.freewebs.com/wendyinmyheartforever

                cps10's avatar - Lottery-004.jpg
                The Carolinas - Charlotte
                United States
                Member #21627
                September 12, 2005
                4138 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: August 29, 2006, 9:39 am - IP Logged

                Well there is a MILLION dollar question. I agree as well on both parts. Nothing is for nothing and that is JUST what is means. Espeically if you dont enter the darn thing. Of course they can say that they picked your email or name ect out of a hat lol. BUT granted when people are gullable enough to fall for it ( not saying that its bad thing .. things happen ya know) but why does the bank ALLOW to send them the money IF its not a REAL check. Makes no sense to me what so ever. I know that when I put in a check it has to clear at my bank before they allow me to draw funds on it.  Tisk Tisk, everyone just HAS to be realistic when it comes these things.  oh HEY EVERYONE  MUAHHHHHH. 

                Miss Me? Wink

                Hey Sassy!

                Long time no see...yes, you were missed!

                 

                I was going to comment on this yesterday...but the fact remains..."there is a sucker born every minute".

                The North Carolina Education Lottery - so much a joke that here are their mascots:

                Stooges


                  United States
                  Member #379
                  June 5, 2002
                  11296 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: August 29, 2006, 2:28 pm - IP Logged

                  And, in this instance, there is a connection to the (corrupt, because of mandatory annuity payments) NY Lottery. I will never be duped like this.

                    Avatar
                    Coastal Georgia
                    United States
                    Member #2653
                    October 30, 2003
                    1866 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: August 29, 2006, 8:00 pm - IP Logged

                    Well there is a MILLION dollar question. I agree as well on both parts. Nothing is for nothing and that is JUST what is means. Espeically if you dont enter the darn thing. Of course they can say that they picked your email or name ect out of a hat lol. BUT granted when people are gullable enough to fall for it ( not saying that its bad thing .. things happen ya know) but why does the bank ALLOW to send them the money IF its not a REAL check. Makes no sense to me what so ever. I know that when I put in a check it has to clear at my bank before they allow me to draw funds on it.  Tisk Tisk, everyone just HAS to be realistic when it comes these things.  oh HEY EVERYONE  MUAHHHHHH. 

                    Miss Me? Wink

                    Miss you ? Yes ! 

                    Miss you long time !!!! 

                    Welcome back !!

                    DD

                     

                                                   

                                  

                     

                     

                      Avatar
                      New Member
                      Florida
                      United States
                      Member #5651
                      July 15, 2004
                      4 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: August 30, 2006, 2:46 pm - IP Logged

                      My company is actually a victim of one of those scam letters.  A canadian company sending out letters using a rough version of our logo and name.  We get calls every day from people who think they won the international lottery.  Most often it is elderly folk.  Makes me a little angry.  Sad part is, when we explain it's most likely a scam, they get angry.  So many people are hoping that money will save them some day...

                        Avatar

                        United States
                        Member #10720
                        January 23, 2005
                        933 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: August 31, 2006, 9:06 pm - IP Logged

                        Hey...look at this.. a check in the mail, for me! I won the lottery? I guess it's true.. I play often enough.. I must have forgot entering this one, maybe one of those little stands down on the Boardwalk. Anyway I don't really need this 4 grand or so because I just found out via e-mail that if I hold 20 mill in my bank account for this nice person from Nigeria, he will let me keep 5 mill! Only thing, he wants 4 grand for some kind of travel expenses, whatever, I'll just send him the 4 grand check I got in the mail.

                          TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
                          A long and winding road
                          United States
                          Member #17084
                          June 10, 2005
                          4530 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: August 31, 2006, 10:00 pm - IP Logged

                          LcyLary- I like the way you think! To scam the scammer is the ultimate in justice!

                          As to the person who spoke of banking. learn the regulations that guard an account and what a person is ultimately responsible for. The comment was remiss of knowledge in the banking system here in the states.

                          ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

                          christmas holly jolly numbers: 255,303,6911, 474,477 silver:47,gold:79.

                            Avatar
                            Huntsville AL
                            United States
                            Member #16531
                            June 1, 2005
                            65 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: September 2, 2006, 7:37 am - IP Logged

                            Good morning,

                             What happen to the old saying you can take it to the bank? If the bank post the money to your account then it should be your money! Who is being Scammed? The bank makes sure the Con artist get thier money! and when thier mastake is uncovered WHO pay's. If it was the bank this kind of thing would stop!

                            Aloha

                            Jim

                            Most Banks have a 5 or 7 day hold on certain funds deposited.  However I seem to recall an article or post that said that even if the check bounces after the funds have been released you are still liable.