Tips To Avoid Being Spammed: Fake Prize Winnings

The Pennsylvania Attorney General reports in his website that its Bureau of Consumer Protection receives over 50,000 complaints every year, many of them about financial issues ranging from identity theft to credit card and debt issues. Scams and cons are commonplace.

A client of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky recently received an official looking notification that he had won a special lottery that included U.S. citizens selected at random. His prize was $100,000 and he actually received a $100,000 cashier’s check, seemingly drawn on a bank in Indiana. The prize notification directed him to call for instructions on how to claim his prize. When he made that telephone call, he was told to deposit the check in his account and then call the number again for further instructions.

Fortunately, that’s when he called us. Naturally, we were very suspicious and suggested he bring the notification and check in to us so that we could look it over. We saw the clue to the scam in the notification. It mentioned that certain duties and taxes would be payable, in the amount of $4,600. We realized that when the client made that second phone call, he would be told to “wire” the amount of $4,600 to some bank, likely outside the United States. Since a “wire” transfers money immediately, but checks may take several days to clear or be rejected, our client would have been out the $4,600 before he was notified that his $100,000 check was rejected as a forgery. We advised him to call the police. This case had a happy ending, because our client called us for help early. We have advised a number of clients on this and other types of scams.

For information on other types of scams and avoiding scams, visit the PA Attorney General’s website at http:/

If you see information on the AG’s website that you would like to print, and are having trouble, let us know and we will try to help. If you would like to contact us, call us at 610 323-7464.