Fake check scam uses Reader's Digest name
By Nyla, Fraudwatchers Support Team
June 27th, 2006
A new forged check postal scam masquerading as a sweepstakes win has been spotted. The letter claims to be from the "International Processing Department" and states that the recipient has won a large monetary prize through Reader's Digest, a name that is certainly widely known and trusted.
Included is an "advance check" that is to be used for insurance, taxes, handling, transportation and other fees. If the target isn't very familiar with the complex regulations surrounding sweepstakes in North America, they could easily be convinced that the check is good and the sweepstakes is legitimate.
Of course, the practice of charging fees in order to claim a sweepstakes prize is illegal in most countries, and a winner would only owe taxes to the proper authorities after claiming the prize, not directly to the sweepstakes. And the check itself is forged. If the winner were to follow the instructions to cash and wire part of the value of the check, they would find themselves owing the entire amount of the check to the bank once the forgery is discovered. Even worse, they might find themselves in legal trouble, particularly if they have trouble repaying the bank.
This fake check scam appears to originate out of Canada. The letterhead bears the return address "International Processing Department 600 Borgan Ave, Suite 500, Winnipeg,MB, T3X 7F5", which appears to be a non-existent address. The contact phone number, 1-819-701-0487, is likely an anonymous, prepaid mobile provided by Fido Wireless. The checks were drawn on the account of CEJA Corporation through the Bank of Oklahoma. Since CEJA Corporation is a very real gas and oil company located in Tulsa, this indicates the checks may actually be stolen or written against the company's real account.
If you receive one of these letters and checks, please file a police report and turn over the mailing and check to the police. They will involve the U.S. Postal Inspector in the investigation. If you have cashed the check, please notify your bank of the probable forgery and they will assist you in getting an investigation started. If you have deposited the check, do not withdraw money until the bank has been notified, and definitely do not wire any of the money elsewhere. Otherwise, you will come out on the losing end of this "sweepstakes win".