Attorney General: Fake checks cause real scam

By Lindsey Berning, NewsNetNebraska

Victimes of the scam received this letter, supposedly from Publisher’s Clearing House, claiming they had won.

Hundreds of people across the country thought they won big bucks a couple weeks ago.  Unfortunately for them, they weren’t that lucky.

One hundred and eighty people received letters supposedly from Publisher’s Clearing House informing them they won the jackpot. Along with the letters, they received fraudulent cashier’s checks to pay for the taxes and fees. The recipients were supposed to cash these checks, put them in their accounts and then wire the money.

“You put this fake money in your account and it will be there for a couple days until the bank realized it’s fake, and then the money you’ve wired off is yours,” Attorney General Jon Bruning said. “So if you actually commence the wire, you’re going to lose money.”

Click to hear Attorney General Jon Bruning explain the scam.

These checks were drawn on fake accounts from First State Bank Nebraska. The letters and fake checks were reported in Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma and Arizona.

fake check
Victims of the scam received a fraud cashier’s check similar to this one.

The Attorney General’s office first got a call from First State Bank Nebraska on March 12. They put out a warning about the scam the next day. Since then, the number of fraudulent checks reported has dropped.

The source of a scam like this is very hard to track down, Bruning said. In 2012, 8,000 calls were made to the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Hotline, and they handled 3,500 complaints. Rather than spending lots of money to investigate the source, the best thing to do is to warn people against these scams, he said.

“If you get what seems to be lottery winnings, check and check and check to confirm that it’s the real deal, and you’ll know,” Bruning said. “If they ask you to pay fees, it’s not real. Real lotteries don’t ask you to pay for taxes and fees.

“I mean these things are designed to pray upon people’s desires.”

Tips from the Attorney General’s Office to avoid scams: 

  • Don’t deposit checks from unknown people.
  • Never wire money or send pre-paid charge cards to someone you don’t know.
  • Never give or pay money to receive money.
  • Protect personal information like bank account and Social Security numbers.
  • Keep updated on the latest scams and fraud by following the Attorney General’s Office on Twitter @NEAGConsumer or visit www.ago.ne.gov.
  • For more information, contact the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Hotline at (800)727-6432.

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