I/we have not personally been ripped-off by this obvious scam, but wish to alert others to this particular approach. The following excerpt is what occurred.
During the latter part of April 2009, my wife received, via postal mail, a letter with "no return address" but postmarked from "Canada". The red flags are already being raised, or should be.
Upon opening the letter, there was also a check in the amount of $4,750.00. This check was from a bank called "Sovereign Bank" supposedly written by a company called "Diversified Systems" with an address in New Jersey. Not being an expert of any sorts, the check looked legit, but my guess is that the check would not clear if deposited. Another red flag here.
Now the letter stated my wife had won a sizable amount of money in a Canadian lottery ($253,000.00). To us, a very sizable amount, and we definitely could use it with our particular situation. However, another red flag, because neither of us had entered a Canadian lottery. Of course, when some mysterious person wants to send me large amounts of money, I get a little skeptical.
Instead of throwing it in the trash, I decided to see if I could uncover any more red flags. So off to the internet I went.
First of all, I could not find the address as shown for the Company and or the Claim Agent. A red big red flag here! Now I decided to try to locate the Tax Agent, Paul Ardern, who also supposedly has a Toronto address. No such luck, however, what struck me as strange, was the address looked like a personal address versus an official address of a government representative collecting taxes. A couple of more red flags!
I was able to find some basic information on the telephone number the Claim Agent, Michael Moore wanted my wife to call. The phone number is a cell phone registered in Vancouver, British Columbia. By itself, this may not seem like much, but this particular phone number is the same phone number shown for the company, which is supposedly located in Toronto. Toronto and Vancouver just happen to be on opposite ends of Canada. Have a couple more red flags! I was not finished yet.
I decided to see what I could find out about Sovereign Bank and Diversified Systems. They both, on the surface seem legit and figure they are being used to help dupe non-skeptical people. The address for Diversified Systems on the check does match the information I found on the internet. I emailed them at the email address I found online, getting no response, as I suspected.
The branch of Sovereign Bank I found was also located in the same town/city as Diversified Systems, which could make sense and helps to legitimize the check, however, here are some more red flags.
Why would an "official" lottery office in Canada, have a US firm, which obviously has no links with the Canadian Lottery system, send me a check for $4,750.00, so I can "wire transfer" $3,435.00, back to a "Tax Agent" to pay taxes in Canada, who according to the letter, has my "winnings".
In the end, I would never see my wife's winnings, less the the $4,750.00 used to pay the "taxes", plus the wire transfer fees. Since the check would not clear, then of course, we would be out the $4,750.00 plus bank fees at a minimum. Me suspects that Sovereign Bank and Diversified Systems, the legit parts, would have us tied up with legal issue and possibly the Federal Government. I just wouldn't it.
I may hurting for cash because I am a full time caregiver for my wife, and at the same time trying to start a legitimate online business to regain my lost income. My wife, who is a young 69 years, but is debilitated, and including myself, do not need the heartache that could potentially come with this scam. I am sure others have seen this and only hope they all saw through the scam as I did.
As I stated in the beginning, I want to alert others to this potential scam and went into some detail only to point out the obvious. It appears they are trying to target elderly people, so be on the lookout.
These scammers may be using different company names, which I could probably spend hours and days looking for, but the general scheme is the same. Send you a letter with a check, contact the Claim Agent for further instructions, wait for your money, get a lot heartache.