There’s a really devious scam going around worth mentioning because of one compelling tactic the scammers use.
My dad received a letter the other day “informing” him that he was the lucky winner of some unclaimed prize money. Below is the letter he received.
They sent him a check for $1,940 dollars and told him that all he needs to do to claim the prize money is deposit the check and send back a portion of that money for processing fees and identification purposes.
My dad’s first thought (which I imagine yours is as well) was, Oh! This must be a scam. They expect me to deposit their check and then send them a check from my bank account. After a few days, their check won’t clear and they’ll have my money.
For laughs, my dad decided to call the guy up to see what sort of crazy explanation he would provide. His answer caught my dad off-guard. He told him to wait till the check clears before sending them a check.
Huh? Wait a minute. So they want me to wait till the check clears? Doesn’t that mean the money is fully in my account? What if I never send them a check? I could just keep the money. If this is a scam, how are they making money?
Calling the Better Business Bureau provided the answer. They told my dad under no circumstances should he deposit that check. Yes, the check will clear, but probably because it was written by another victim defrauded by this same scam. Later when the scam is discovered by that victim, my dad would be liable for depositing a fraudelent check.
What’s really makes this scam compelling and likely to sucker a lot of people into falling for it is the mistaken belief that once a check clears, the money is in the clear. It’s not.
In any case, if you receive such a scam letter, the proper authorities to report it to is not the FBI but the Postal Inspectors, the law enforcement wing of the United States Postal Service (and the subject of a really cheesy movie, The Inspectors starring Louis Gosset Jr.).
I would suggest warning your family members who are prone to such scams. Especially those who consistently fall for those PayPal emails and keep opening up pictures of Anna Kournikova sent via email.