November 29, 2010 1:35
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) continues to receive reports of letters and emails being distributed pursuant to prize sweepstakes or lottery schemes. These schemes use counterfeit checks that bear legitimate-looking logos of various financial institutions to fool victim into sending money to the fraudsters.
Fraudsters tell victims they won a sweepstakes or lottery, but to receive a lump sum payout, they must pay the taxes and processing fees upfront. Fraudsters direct individuals to call a telephone number to initiate a letter of instructions. The letter alleges that the victim may elect to take an advance on the winnings to make the required upfront payment. The letter includes a check in the amount of the alleged taxes and fees, along with processing instructions. Ultimately, victims believe they are using the advance to make the required upfront payment, but in reality they are falling prey to the scheme.
The victim deposits the check into their own bank, which credits the account for the amount of the check before the check clears. The victim immediately withdraws the money and wires it to the fraudsters. Afterwards, the check proves to be counterfeit and the bank pulls the respective funds from the victim's account, leaving the victim liable for the amount of the counterfeit check plus any additional fees the bank
Persons may fall victim to this scheme due to the allure of easy money and the apparent legitimacy of the check the fraudsters include in the letter of instruction. The alleged cash prizes and locations of the financial institutions vary.
Tips to avoid being scammed:
- A federal statute prohibits mailing lottery tickets, advertisements, or payments to purchase tickets in a foreign lottery.
- Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or sweepstakes.
- Beware of lotteries or sweepstakes that charge a fee prior to delivering your prize.
- Be wary of demands to send additional money as a requirement to be eligible for future winnings.
If you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other cyber crime, you can report it to the IC3 at: www.IC3.gov. The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to law enforcement for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns to alert the public to new criminal schemes.
April 22, 2010 12:28
The Office of Financial and Insurance regulation (OFIR) and Allstate Insurance Company are working together to warn consumers of an international mail fraud scheme.
An OFIR employee received a counterfeit check that appeared to originate from Allstate. The fraudulent check was issued for $4,970.20 and came with a letter informing the recipient that they won a $250,000 "Consumer's Promotion Draw" for consumers who shop at a number of the nation's major stores. The letter also explains the $4,970.20 check was issued to cover the "Non-Canadian Residential Tax" The consumer will have to pay to a tax agent. The consumer is also expected to pay $200 in insurance and delivery charges. The individuals sending these letters and counterfeit checks have no affiliation with Allstate and are illegally using the company's name.
Michigan consumers who receive or have received what appears to be a $4,900 check from Allstate should immediately contact OFIR toll-free at 877-999-6442 and the agency can direct their call to the proper authorities.
March 11, 2010 8:38
Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate online. The Internet Crime Complaint Center continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings of real estate online. Click here to read more.
March 3, 2010 9:43
Have you received a phone call that your debit card has been deactivated? Don't respond or provide any information. This is a phishing attempt to gain PINs or other personal identifying information. Bank of Ann Arbor reminds you that we will never call you to ask for your account number or any identifying information. When in doubt, don't. Call us at 734-662-1600.