Protect Yourself and Report the Latest Frauds, Scams, Spams, Fakes, Identify Theft Hacks and Hoaxes
The scammers are getting a slightly more clever - or they are simply branching out into counterfeit checks (cheques). this one came in the mail (the post, in your mailbox / letter box - not electronically). This one claims to be from International Lotto Inc., and includes a check from Heartland Employees Credit Union, drawn on Chemical Bank Montcalm, both in Michigan, while the Lottery is supposedly based in "New Found Land", Canada. Obviously, that doesn't add up, nor does misspelling "Newfoundland".
In addition to the usual lottery winning notification, they also enclosed a check. A counterfeit check. It looks like a real check, but anyone with a printer can do that these days. The clever part is, they claim the check is to cover your taxes on the winnings. The instruct you to pay the "tax agent" with this a moneygram, and to call your "disbursement agent for more information". And how much do you want to bet that the "tax agent" doesn't work for the government, but rather, the scammers!
Now, any accountant can tell you, that's not how it would work. You would simply pay your taxes to the government out of the winnings, when you receive the winnings. There's no "tax agent" involved; certainly not arranged through the lottery, nor would a lottery send you part of the winnings to pay taxes before you could receive the remainder of the winnings. That ought to be a big sign that it is a scam.
Here's what is really going on: the scammer wants you to cash their counterfeit check and then pay the "tax agent" (who is one of the scammers) with a cashiers check or Western Union money order. They will then cash that check and have the money before their fake check clears your bank. When their fake check bounces, your bank will take the money out of your account. And guess what? You may also get arrested and prosecuted for a variety of felony crimes, such as passing bad checks and fraud.
Don't cash the check. Instead, call the FBI and ask them to investigate. You can go to this website and verify the routing number on the check and get the bank's phone number, then call the bank to verify that the account is real and the check is real. Or hand it to your bank, NOT to cash, but their fraud division to investigate it. If the account is legitimate, and it is a real winning (which, of course, it is NOT - but we have to point this out for those pathetic types who want to believe in the tooth fairy) you'll get the money.
We contacted the name of the account the check was drawn on, "Heartland Employees Credit Union" and here's what they told us:
PLEASE ADVISE ANYONE THAT OUR INSTITUTION DOES NOT HAVE CASHIERS CHECKS AND THAT IF THE CHECK HAS A MANS NAME ON THE SIGNATURE LINE THAT IT IS INDEED COUNTERFEIT AS WE ARE AN OFFICE WITH FIVE FEMALE EMPLOYEES. CHEMICAL BANK IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED CHEMICAL BANK MONTCALM, THOSE ARE THREE MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS THAT ARE NOT LEGITIMATE. WE CONTACTED OUR LOCAL FBI OFFICIALS AND THEY ARE NOT WILLING TO HELP SINCE WE ARE NOT DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY THE SCAM AND ARE NOT AT A LOSS. HA ! ISN'T THIS ILLEGAL ? HOW FRUSTRATING. WE HOPE THIS ALL COMES TO AN END SOON.HEARTLAND EMPLOYEES CU
The lesson learned is DO NOT assume any check you receive is real (if it isn't YOU will be liable for the loss) AND you should immediately contact the FBI, since you are the victim, not the bank or name on the check. Click here to locate your local FBI office's address and phone number.