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Local check fraud scheme causing concern for EPD

Ennis police warn residents to beware of lottery scams
The old saying “Buyer Beware” should now be amended to “Buyer –– or Random Check Receiver –– Beware.”
Recently an Ennis woman, who has asked to not be named, received a check in the mail from Alliance Financial and Trust in the amount of $4,875.
She was told in the accompanying letter that the message was a final notification that she had been declared a winner of the De-Lotto North American Sweepstakes Lottery held in May.
Supposedly, the claims department for the vague-sounding lottery had made several unsuccessful attempts to inform her that she was entitled to the sum of $125,000, divided from a total prize pool of $4 million to be shared among 32 other winners. It was explained that all twinners were selected through a random computer ballot system drawn from more than 500,000 names.
The woman was told to deposit her enclosed check, which had been deducted from her winnings and was to cover applicable government taxes on her forthcoming big winnings.
It was stated the tax amount was $2,875 to be paid directly to the tax agent, giving her $2,000 left over.
The “lucky” woman was asked to keep the winnings confidential until her claim had been processed and her cash remitted to her, the explanation being that it was the company’s security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by non participants in the program.
She was given a phone number to call to speak with an agent who would answer any questions she had.
The Ennis victim never suspected she was being tricked until her bank told her the check was a fraud.
“The check looks very real,” the woman said.
“It contains everything, all security features and a colored border with a background.”
“These things work in spurts,” Ennis Det. Lt. Ron Roark said.
“We will go a month or two without receiving any complaints of this kind and then we will get about five in a month. It’s like they work on zip codes.”
Roark warned residents to beware of lottery schemes emanating from Puerto Rico, South Africa and Europe.
“If it is from one of these places then it is a forgery,” Roark said.
Ennis mail recipients have been targeted before and variations of the scheme include forged money orders from Wal-Mart labeled with real check numbers that have been copied from previous money orders.
“I want to get the word out to let people know so they don’t fall for this sort of thing,” the local winner of the phony lottery said.
“I don’t want anyone to get scammed out of his or her money.”

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Posted by on Jul 24 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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