After a Virginia resident reported a check lottery scam he received through the mail, Lt. Troy Steele thought he would give the scam artist a call.
Sitting from his desk at the Culpeper Police Department, in front of this reporter, Steele called Patrick La Pierre from HKJC Lotteries to find out what he would need to do to obtain his winnings of $125,000.
The winnings are supposedly from a Hong Kong Lottery but the person taking all phone calls related to the scam has a Canadian area code.
HKJC Lotteries sends people a check and a letter informing them of the process. The check, which Steele received for $2,940, was for taxes he would have to pay on the winnings.
Steele, using the name of the person who the check was mailed to, had already spoken to La Pierre once before to ask about cashing the check. La Pierre told him to take it to his bank, cash it and then mail a Moneygram to HKJC, which would then send him his money.
The second time Steele called he told La Pierre the money was in hand and he was wondering what he should do next. Keep in mind, Steele never cashed the check.
He was trying to obtain as much information before letting on that he is a police officer.
La Pierre said all agents were busy and asked him to call back in five minutes. When he did, La Pierre transferred him to an agent, Steve Lucas.
"You already made the withdraw?" Lucas asked for the third time.
"Right, that's correct," Steele said.
Lucas then asked for the city and state of where Steele was calling from, which he used to find the closest Moneygram facility.
Lucas told Steele a Moneygram is on Duke Street and gave him a password name to use when filling out the form. He was told to use the name of Steve Streat and send the money to Manitoba.
"Pick up a person-to-person form," Lucas said. "Put in the password and your information. As soon as you are done call back in and we will mail you your check."
Without an actual exchange of money, Steele said there is not much the police department can do in terms of placing any charges. Plus if an individual uses the password, or false name, and files a complaint with police the claim would be invalid since the person's actual name was not used on the Moneygram form.
"It becomes more of a civil matter because it's a promise that's been broken," Steele said.
The community needs to be aware, he said, because HKJC claims the checks they mail are from their financial sponsors.
Some of the checks even contain names of well known banks, such as Bank of America.
If an individual cashes the check at their bank and then mails the money, in five or six days the bank will call them and say the check did not clear because it's no good.
"In the meantime you've cashed it and sent them the money," Steele said.
"You're out the money and yeah you're the victim but the bank will get their money, somebody will have to pay."
Steele plans on calling Lucas back sometime this week and intends to tell him his profession is police work.
He's not exactly sure what Lucas will say or do but Steele has a pretty good idea.
It might sound something like this: Click.
Check Lottery Scam
Culpeper residents are receiving checks for thousands of dollars in the mail with a letter from an international lottery company claiming the resident has won big money.
The company states the resident must cash the check and mail it to them before obtaining the winnings. The check supposedly covers taxes the resident must pay on the winnings.
Once the check is cashed and sent via Moneygram, the company gets their money and the resident is not only out the thousands of dollars but is also not getting any winnings from the false lotto.
If you get any checks or letters with similar information, throw it away or contact police. The Culpeper Police Department can be reached at 727-3430.