On November 28, 2006, I received a letter on letterhead reading "HM Treasury, The Correspondence Unit 2/W1, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ, SPONSOR: Lotto, Digest, Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes". My name and address - all correct - were at the top of the page with a claim reference number.
The subject line read: Award Claim Final Notification. The letter stated I had won a sweepstakes on October 10, 2006 in the amount of $57,000 USD, "selected through a computerized ballot system drawn from Reader's Digest, Publisher's Clearing House, Computer games and sweepstakes with database from Australia, North America, Europe and Asia, as part of an Internation Promotions Program (IPP), which is conducted annually."
The letter went on to say that International Law ensure a winner pay a processing fee, but that law also prevents the winner from paying out-of-pocket fees. The enclosed check was for the processing fee, and gave a number, (604) 721-8739, to call a claims agent, Miss Carol Adams, and that money must be claimed by December 19, 2006.
I was immediately suspicious, simply because I'm cynical by nature, and because there were several typos/misspellings in the letter.
The check looks completely genuine, with routing number and account number with colored border and watermarks on the back. However, I did an internet search for the bank and found no such bank at the place listed. I also searched for the area code & prefix, and found that it's a cell phone in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Information on the check as follows:
Account holder name: OHPI MH INC, 7120 Main St., Trumbull, CT 06611
Bank: JPMorgan Chase Bank, Syracuse, NY, 13206
Bank Routing Number: 021309379
Account Number: 601872310
I did call the telephone number and "Carol" answered the phone. I explained I got the letter, etc, verified name and address on the letter with the claim number. She asked for phone number and I didn't give it. She told me to deposit the check, wait 1-4 business days for it to clear, and then call back and she would give me the address of the lawyer who would release the funds. She said I would be responsible to pay income tax out of the winnings.
I don't understand why she told me to wait to mail the funds, because of course, by then I would find out it's a fake check.
Anyway, I'm taking the check to my local PD and a copy to the post office.