Q. My uncle is always calling me to tell me he won something whether it’s a car or money. So far I’m able to steer him away by explaining that it’s a scam. They seem to come by phone and mail and he is inundated with them.
Usually I can keep him from falling for it but this time he received a check in the mail. He is arguing with me this time because the check looks so real. He is being told to deposit it in the bank and then he has to send it for taxes before they can send him the big money.
Can you enlighten him and me concerning this real looking check?
S.H., Upper Black Eddy
A. It’s a scam! This is not how legitimate sweepstakes operate.
If you have really won, you will pay taxes directly to the government after you receive your winnings, not before. You would never be asked to wire the money.
Unfortunately, we at the Bucks County Consumer Protection office have seen these bogus lotteries and fake checks scams increasing at an alarming rate.
Crooks often pretend to be from well-known companies in order to gain people’s trust. A familiar company name doesn’t guarantee that it’s legitimate. Try to find the company’s contact information independently, either online or through Directory Assistance, and then contact the company yourself to verify the information.
Even though we have warned people against these scams, the con artists continue to get victims. These lotteries are all bogus and consumers need to realize that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
If you receive any mail or phone calls telling you that “you have won” do not respond. If you respond you will get someone who will direct you to wire money for a number of bogus fees and taxes. Some even send checks to cover the costs.
The checks do look real, but they are counterfeit and if you deposit them in your account they will bounce. Your bank will hold you personally liable for the amount of the check.
The reality is that consumers are falling victim to these scams and are left with no money and no recourse. It is almost impossible to track these scammers down.
Keep in mind that if you did not enter a sweepstakes or lottery you cannot win. The idea of winning the lottery does sound great, but the truth is, you will end up losing.