I received a letter stating that I had won $800,000.00 on December 15, 2004. Included with the letter was a check for $4700.00. The letter stated that I needed to call a certain phone number before I cashed the check. I called the number. A man answered and said that I had won the Austrian Lottery. He continued to advise me to deposit the check and wait for it to clear. He then said that in order for me to receive the rest of my $800,000.00, I would need to send a Money Gram for about $2815.00 made attn to Connie Brown in Seattle then call him back with the control number.
The next day I had went to my bank, Bank of America. I was still very skeptical. I spoke with the bank representative and told her my concerns. The check just so happened to be drawn out of Bank of America. The representative was able to look up the account the check was drawn under and said that the account was valid, the funds were available, and that the company was sending out a lot of checks in that sequence. The representative said she would see no reason why the check wouldn't clear. Based on her response, I then proceeded to deposit the check. There was no hold placed on the funds, they cleared that very same night. The next day I then wrote a check for cash to cover the Money Gram amount of $2815.00. I then went to Albertsons to process the Money Gram transfer. I called the man back with the control number and he said that a woman will be calling you with in 24-48 hours to tell you exactly when you will receive the rest of the $800,000.00 certified check via Federal Express.
I waited two days and a lady called me back to say that the check was being processed, however, she said the man forgot to tell me to send in about $400.00 for cover the insurance cost. She advised me to send a Money Gram to cover the insurance. So thinking that I had nothing to lose, because it was still out of the $4700.00 check, I sent the Money Gram. I again had to call back with the control number. She again told me to wait for the other lady to call and tell me when my check would be sent to me. So, I waited and waited. I called several times a day for 2 weeks and received no call back. I never received a call again from the Austrian Lottery.
I checked my bank account on Jan 10, 2005 I was astonished to see that Bank of America has processed a CHARGE BACK in the amount of $4700.00 for the deposit from over 24 days ago. I can't believe this was happening. I was told the check would clear by the representative and the check showed clear on my account. WHAT HAPPENED???????
How can I be charged back? Who's to blame? How can I be responsible for this money? The bank should have put a hold on the account until the funds had cleared. The representative personally checked the account to see if the check was valid.
I am coming to the realization that this Austrian Lottery was a scam. But I don't feel that I should be held liable for the $4700.00 charge back. I did everything right by speaking with the bank prior to depositing the check. The bank representative should have should reviewed the account better for errors before telling me the check was valid. If the representative even mentioned that there was a problem with the check, then I would have NEVER deposited it.
Bank of America won't help me. They refuse to give me a copy of the check to take it to the proper authorities. The bank realizes that the Austrian Lottery is fraudulently writing checks on this account to people. I don't feel that this is my fault, but the Bank of America's fault, because they said the check was valid.
In the interim since January, the bank has closed my account and sent it to a collection agency. To me, I feel the bank is supporting the Austrian Lottery SCAM.
I don't know what to do. Can anyone give me any guidance?
Coral Springs, Florida
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