ESCANABA - Residents of Delta County need to be aware aware of "International Lottery" and "Grant" check scams that are on the rise across Michigan.
Residents are being sent "certified" checks for approximately $4,900 with a letter stating this money is the first part of their winnings or grant. The letter instructs the recipient to deposit the check into their account and send approximately $3,000 to a post office box in Ontario or other far off place to pay for taxes, insurance, handling, etc.
Often, by the time your bank determines the original check is counterfeit, your check for the "fees" has already cleared and you are out the amount you sent plus whatever fees your bank charges for a bounced check.
The Better Business Bureau has seen fake checks that are supposedly drawn on local banks, local manufacturers and local retailers which were high tech copies printed on standard check writing forms.
In the past, in order to get a certified check, you had to have the money in your account to cover it. However, the increased use of computers has made it easier for con-artists to simulate these checks. Because of this "good as gold" logic that some older people still believe to be true, they often fall victim to this scam.
If you receive an unexpected check in the mail you need to do some research before depositing it to your account and forwarding a check of your own.
- Why did you receive this check? Did you enter a lottery or seek a grant?
- Why would this bank, manufacturer or retail establishment be sending me a partial check and asking me to send them a check from my own account.
- Does the company whose name is on the check actually exist - at the address stated?
- Always remember that the Michigan Lottery will never expect you to send money to get your prize.
"Unfortunately there is always someone out there willing to steal from those that can least afford it. By following these simple steps Delta County residents can avoid becoming victims.
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Gary Ballweg is sheriff of Delta County