I also received this letter Aug.3, 2007 stating I was the July 2007 category lottery winner-a lump sum of 28,500.00 and an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas. Along with this letter was a VERY real looking check drawn from Citibank, N.A. for 2,953.32 to cover (International Clearance Fees).
However, and I'm not too thrilled to admit, I was TAKEN and am still amidst the aftermath. I was a Grade-A sucker, but I wish to share in detail what transpired during and afterward.
I did call the #. I did deposit the check (+2,953.32). I did wire the money to someone named Mary Gonzalez in New York (2830 + western union fee = -2,953.19). Throughout, I was warned not to divulge the prize to anyone until I actually received it for fear of a 'double claim' which would void it. I was told the 'package' would arrive soon, but then it was hald at the border and there were more unexpected fees, this time out of my own pocket (another $2500 that needed to be wired right away or the check will be held in customs!) This time the little voice of doubt inside screamed at me. Now, I'm doomed to suffer the consequences of this bounced/fraudulent check!
I am very angry, but mostly at myself. Bottomline, I failed to do my homework prior to taking action, and only investigated into the details and found these reports after the fact, when I finally listened to my own suspicions! If only I had 'googled' the info or verified the check before taking any action, but I just wasn't thinking (this check came at the wrong time, when I wish I could use it most)! Hard lesson learned. BEWARE, and follow the advice listed on this site!
I did call the real BFD in the Bahamas and inquired about the letter, and they also verified that they have no office in Vancouver, and that it has also been reported to them that someone has been falsely using their letterhead. That's when I searched for 'NORTH AMERICA HOLIDAY TRAVEL REWARD PROGRAM' and found this site.
It does also appear to be a scam that has been going around for some time, with changes to the contact names, amounts of lump sum winnings, assistance checks and what bank they are drawn from it sure looks like the same person/persons pulling this scam.
I am willing to share as much information about the communications, phone records, and money wire records that I've kept during this farce to help aid in capturing these people and putting a stop to their tactics. By the way, I'm still in good contact with the folks and told them I would see what I can do though after this I doubt they will keep the same info in use and answer my calls anymore.
San Jose, California