Sweepstakes scam hits eastern Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sweepstakes scam hits eastern Iowa

by John Wilmer

A warning about a sweepstakes scam that could be targeting your mailbox. State officials are investigating a fake check scam which uses the name of popular sweepstakes, The Publishers Clearing House.

People receive a very realistic looking check and what appears to be an official letter from The Publishers Clearing House. Even though the check is not real, the bank where it's deposited may make the money available for a short time.

However, once the check is found to be fraudulent the bank will want the money back.

These scammers are so creative that they use the routing number on the check from an actual business.

After cashing the check, the victim is asked to wire money back to the scammer to receive the rest of the prize, but in the end there is no prize and the victim is out the money.

The publishers clearing house released a statement on their web site regarding the scam.

It says, "A legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to send money to enter a sweepstakes, claim a prize, or to pay a fee, tax or deposit. If you are asked to send money to claim a sweepstakes prize for any reason you are being scammed."

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Iowa has these tips to prevent being scammed.

  • If you are not expecting a check, don't cash it until you have talked to a representative.
  • If it claims to be a refund, a job, a grant, or a gift - you shouldn't have to pay for it. Don't fall for this.
  • These scams are getting more sophisticated. They are using public records to trick consumers into believing something is true. A scam artist learns you are a subscriber to Hunting Magazine, so they offer all those subscribers "rebate of hunting license fees paid over the past ten years". This seems so believable, even when they have to pay the "class action lawsuit fee" of $290. They are also using public records to gain access to information. New car buyers are being sent "rebate checks" or "recall reimbursements" and asked to forward on the sales tax on the car or forfeit the rebate. These are all believable.
  • Warning on this and other advance fee scams:
  •  Canadian address or stamp or postal service
  •  Asking for YOUR money to returned through Western Union or Cashiers Checks
  •  You are given a foreign phone number - often in Canada to call with questions.
  •  The check return name and address do not match the other information in the letter
  •  A request to keep the award confidential as a result of Federal Law or Judge's ruling.

Online Reporter:  John Wilmer

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