3OYS: Valley teacher avoids being caught in scam

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX --  Have you ever gotten a random check in the mail, just out of the blue?

If so, you're not alone. But 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper warns: don't be so quick to deposit that check, because it might not be real.

That's what Nonu Nsaganefound out. "I received something in the mail," she says. "I opened it up and it was a check."

The check claimed to be from Aflac and was for more than $3,750. It came with a letter that claimed she was the winner of a "Sweepstakes Raffle Draw."

Although she was excited, Nonu says her teaching instincts kicked in. "I said wait a second, could this be real?  I mean I have to find out before I go cash this check, go deposit it into my account and get in trouble."

It's a good thing she became suspicious, because the letter instructed her to do something that sounded a little weird.
"They say I owe taxes and have to pay taxes for $1,450, and I’m not sure how that works," she says.

People like Nonu are so overwhelmed and thrilled to hold a check that sometimes, common sense goes out the window.

So, here's how the scam works.  Nonu would take the check to her bank and deposit it. She would then withdraw $1,400 to pay those taxes she talked about, and wire the $1,400 back to the scammers.

However, days later, Nonu's bank would discover the check is no good and hold Nonu responsible for the $1,400.

"I can't afford to lose that," she says. "I mean, I have children to take care of. I have a life to lead. I cannot afford to lose any money at this time, no."

3 On Your Side contacted Aflac because it's their name being used in the scam.

In a statement, the company says: "It has been reported that the Aflac name is being used in a fraudulent financial scheme. We urge consumers to disregard any letter or check that suggests a promotional reward bearing the Aflac name." 

Nonu says this situation has taught her a lot about not being so trusting and hopes her story warns others.

"I am glad I did not fall for this," she says. "I’m glad 3OYS was there to help me through this."