Devious Scam In Which The Check They Send You Clears

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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.

InspectorsWhat’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.

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9 responses

  1. Avatar for Steve's Life
    Steve's Life March 23rd, 2007

    A Clever Scam - Don't Fall for It

  2. Avatar for engtech
    engtech March 23rd, 2007

    Anna Kournikova loves me, I don't care what you say.

  3. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked March 23rd, 2007

    I'm sure she does Eng. I'm sure she does. ;)

  4. Avatar for Rod
    Rod April 2nd, 2007

    Interesting. The phone number is a Fido/Rogers cell phone (by the prefix, anyway). Not sure where your dad is located, but Canadian law forbids any sort of payment as a requirement for a prize to be released.
    But without a doubt it's a more sophisticated sort of scam that unfortunately is going to catch a few more people.

  5. Avatar for Walter
    Walter April 3rd, 2007

    Often, the various comments to a particular post are sometimes as interesting as the post itself. Many of your "non-techie" posts are on blog as well as, but you get far more comments for the same entry on Is there any way to combine the comments sections of each entry that is posted on both blogs? One easy, but probably not technically elegant, way to do this would be to direct the user to the entry of the post when the user clicks on the entry.
    Just a thought.

  6. Avatar for Kristen Hernandez
    Kristen Hernandez November 11th, 2007

    I just got this same letter in the mail and looked this up on the internet!
    It says it is from MCI Financial Group. the check says bank of America. I can't wait to report these fuckers.

  7. Avatar for Gwen
    Gwen November 16th, 2007

    I received a check also for over $3000 saying I had won $60,000. I reported it to Phone Busters out of Ontario, Canada. I have reported it to Cigna. More steps will be done.

  8. Avatar for taya lacy
    taya lacy November 1st, 2008

    I just received the same letter from tbc financials. crazy!!!!1 In this tough economical times scams like that are not funny... I hope you scammers choke on a chicken bone.

  9. Avatar for juan
    juan March 21st, 2010

    very clever indeed
    it seems the scammers are always a step ahead
    Best advice that should be given out on national TV
    Trust nobody over the internet - especially with money.