"Final Notice: We are pleased to announce that you have been declared the grand prize winner of the 2007 Annual Sweepstake Lottery draw! Your total winning is Seventy Nine Thousand Dollars in U.S. Funds. Congratulations!"
Sound familiar? We received two of these types of letters within a week of each other, so that made us even more suspicious than we already were. Luckily we don't have any money in the bank anyway so when we deposited the check we HAD to wait for funds to "clear" before sending any money.
(We HAD been doing those online survey things so it could be "legit")
THE FIRST LETTER:
When this letter from World Financial Group first arrived I immediately thought "SCAM" but I went online, checked the company out and we also called the "Agent". WFG is a real company and the check was a real check so...we deposited it. And waited. The guy (Ian) called us a few days later to ask if the check had cleared yet.
A week goes by and he calls the house, "I've tried to reach you at work and home" he tells me, "The check should have cleared already." I tell him that it still has not. "What bank do you use?" He asks. WELL--I certainly don't give out any bank info over the phone to anyone so I say "It doesn't matter what bank I use, I have to wait."
After I get off the phone, I go to my mail box. And there is a letter from my bank telling me the funds were not cleared and that they are looking into counterfeiting stuff. So we call back the "Agent" and he says "That's why I've been trying to reach you. there was some fraud stuff that happened and you'll be receiving a new check via UPS in a few days, I'll call you." SSSSSSSURE buddy.
In the same batch of mail that we received the notification from our bank about the fraudulent check (thank goodness we're not being held responsible for fraud!) we received another letter and a check from Consumer Services of North America. Okay. NOW all kinds of red flags and alerts are going off in our heads.
I will concede that the companies I've listed below may not be the actual companies running the scam and are being used also.
1. Consumer Services North America of Halifax, NS. --This letter was "signed" by Kennedy Hopkins, President telling me to contact Mrs. Jennifer Bitton at 888-832-1126 ext. 1 or my winnings will be forfeited to the government.
"Please call Mrs. Jennifer Bitton for further instructions before depositing this check and remember to quote your reference code." (Don't forget! They advise you not to share this information with anyone for safety and security purposes!)
2. World Financial Group via a check from Bank of America for $2,875.96
3. David Oppenheimer and Company I, L.L.C. via a check from HSBC Bank USA
PROTECT YOURSELF. if you insist on depositing the check "just in case"--DO NOT SEND THE MONEY UNLESS THE CHECK CLEARS! (You DO get a "chargeback fee" from the bank for the funds not clearing.)
These scams are coming in on "real" company letterhead and the checks are from real banks (Bank of America and HSBC Bank USA, etc).