December 10, 2010

DiNAPOLI WARNS OF A SWEEPSTAKES SCAM USING FAKE STATE CHECKS

DiNAPOLI WARNS OF A SWEEPSTAKES SCAM USING FAKE STATE CHECKS
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today warned of a sweepstakes scam involving fraudulent checks that appear to have been issued by New York State.

“These days many people could use some extra cash; this particular scam is especially shameful because it’s occurring during the holiday season at a time when people can be particularly vulnerable,” DiNapoli said.

“People need to remember that what sounds too good to be true all too often is. No legitimate check from the State of New York would ever be used as part of a mystery shopper program. If you receive one of these fraudulent checks, please report it to the police.”

The fraud works this way: scammers send potential victims a letter telling them that they won hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sweepstakes prize from a “USA Mega” drawing that allegedly took place in August. A company calling itself Alpha Finance Services claims to have been assigned to inform winners of their prize and to pay them off accordingly.

The company’s supposed address is located in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The letter asks individuals to contact a claims agent during daytime hours between Monday and Saturday to “activate” a phony check that has been mailed to them. The "check" included in the letter is counterfeit but looks like a New York State check.

This check allegedly would cover the recipient’s tax liability that is attached to the prize winning.

To activate the phony check, the recipient is directed to send thousands of dollars of their own money to the agent. It even “cautions” recipients of the letter not to act on the notice until they have contacted this claims agent “to avoid cases of misappropriation and mishandling of prize monies.”

Anyone with questions or concerns about this scam should contact local law enforcement officials or the New York State Comptroller’s office toll free at 1-888-OCS-4555.

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to seek such advice from a competent professional.