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Use caution if you get unexpected money in the mail

by Gary Harper

Bio | Email | Follow: @GaryHarper3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on October 22, 2009 at 4:56 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 22 at 7:54 PM

PHOENIX -- Viewers keep contacting 3 On Your Side after getting a sizable check in the mail and then wondering if it's real.

Not only is the check not real, but if you follow the directions that came with the check you're going to be a victim.

Pascale Sucato is a landscape designer and although business isn't bad, Sucato could always use a little more money. Who couldn't?

So when she went to her mailbox recently, her heart skipped a beat.

In her mailbox was a notice from Northern Rock Promotions saying she had won their Mega Millions Sweepstakes.

It had a claims number and was even signed by a promotions manager. Also enclosed was a check for more than $4,400.

"The more I read it, the more suspicious I got and then I even got angry that how dare they do this," she said.

Sucato knew right away it was a scam. The notice says she was supposed to deposit the check and then immediately send $3,400 by Western Union to someone in Canada to take care of a "tax clearance fee."

There was even a telephone number Sucato was supposed to call. She says she just wanted to hear the voice of the scammer so she called.

"He said, 'You need to do this really quickly or else there is a chance you may not qualify so deposit the check and send us the $3,400,'" Sucato said.

Of course, Sucato didn't fall for it, but she knows others will.

"I just feel that someone will fall for it," she said. "Someone has to fall for it or else they wouldn't keep doing it."

She's right because a week after she would have deposited that check, Sucato's bank would have discovered the check was fake, but by then she would have already wired $3,400 back to the scammer and she would be a victim.

"Well, I would be out $3,400," Sucato said.

It's estimated that worldwide scammers make more than $100 million a year from this scam.

The Secret Service is in charge of investigating, but they usually don't get involved unless the victim is taken for $50,000 or more.

The bottom line is if you get a check and are supposed to wire money, don't do it.

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