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Sweepstakes scam reported locally

A local Pulaski County resident reported yet another financial scam targeting individuals throughout the county. This current scam has been taking advantage of unsuspecting recipients for over a year and can take different forms.
The local resident was smart enough to realize his internationally addressed letter and unexpected winning was a scam. He said he had heard of widows in different parts of the country losing their homes, lifesavings and more due to participating in a “lottery” their late husbands had reportedly won.
His letters reminded him of the letters the women had received. It contained an address listed in the United Kingdom, his name was not located anywhere on the letter and he was requested to call an “assigned claims agent” to complete the transaction.
Other aspects of the documents alerted the man as well, including major discrepancies involving the amount. The letter indicated the enclosed check was to pay non-residential government fees in the United Kingdom in the amount of $4,998.
The check to cover the fees was made out for $3,998. The fee amount indicated in another portion of the letter was to be $3,490.
Pulaski County Sheriff Jim Davis said such scams are not at all uncommon in the county and he receives reports from residents weekly.
His best advice for residents who think they may be part of a scam is to throw away the letters and make no contact with the companies. In addition, Davis suggests using wisdom.
“If you’ve never played the lottery…you didn’t win the lottery,” said Davis.
This particular sweepstakes scam is believed to have been going on across the country since mid 2009.
The Pulaski County resident’s letter claimed he was the winner of a sweepstakes called the “Consumer Promotion Drawing,” which was “organized for all taxpayers/households, telephone subscribers and customers of the participating retail stores.”
It instructs the opener to call their agent listed in the letter for further instructions about how to receive the full sum of $150,000.
On Nov. 18, 2009, National Bank in Indiana reported to its administrators of branches throughout the country reporting receiving counterfeit checks displaying the banks name, address and routing number. Since that time the scammers have begun using different banks including Century Bank in Somerville Mass., the bank used in the local scam.
It is believed the company use to go by several other names, and still may. The former names included “The American Family Publishing Co.,” the “Sterling Group Financial,” and most commonly “Access Financial Services.”
While the company address is in the United Kingdom, the calling center claims to be in Canada, incoming calls are detected to be from Jamaica and agents have strong Indian and African accents.
Online reports of the scam on Web sites such as 800notes and First Security Corp. say that when calling the agents, they give you instructions where to mail two separate personal checks to make up the amount of the government fees.
Agents explain once mailed the individual can cash or deposit the check received in the mail to replace the funds and a carrier will bring the remaining amount to their home.
However, upon first look bank officials can tell the check is not valid, mainly from the word “VOID” displayed multiple times in the background.
Online reports also state the scam can come via the telephone making the same claims, same address and same instructional process.

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