CHICAGO, IL - August 20, 2013 – If you receive a letter in the mail saying that you have won the lottery in a different country, throw it out because you are being scammed. That’s the recommendation from the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) because it is a lottery or counterfeit check scam.
“It is not hard to fall for these scams, especially during tough times,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Scammers are talented at making something false look very real. People need to always be on guard to combat these sneaky antics.”
Bernas explains that typically scammers send legitimate-looking letters with a fake cashier’s check, informing the recipient that they have won a foreign lottery. “This falls into the category of something that is too good to be true, so be extremely cautious,” he said.
The scam process includes a letter that claims the cashier’s check is to help cover the taxes and fees when claiming the money. The letter instructs the “winner” to deposit the check and wire a portion of the money back to the people that sent it, and then keep the remaining sum. Because the cashier’s check is a part of the scam, recipients are easily fooled. The check is counterfeit and by the time the bank discovers that the check is fake, the damage is done. The recipient is held responsible for the full amount of the check and withdrawal.
The BBB offers the following tips for people to avoid counterfeit check scams:
- Do not enter foreign lotteries. As tempting as a foreign lottery may seem, avoid them completely. Not only are they usually fake, but it is also illegal to play a foreign lottery.
- Never pay money for a prize. If you are required to pay for a prize that you have won, then it is most likely not legitimate.
- Never deposit a check for someone you do not know. When counterfeit checks bounce, the only person the bank will blame is you. Money that you withdraw from your bank will need to be paid back to the bank. Keep in mind that a check can take weeks to clear so the counterfeit check and money withdrawal may not be discovered by the bank until weeks after it was deposited.
- Never wire money to someone you do not know. The reason scammers request people to wire money is because it is untraceable. If you transfer money to a scammer, do not expect to ever see it again.
For more tips and information about scams, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.