The old adage is still true: if something is too good to be true, it probably is.
A Longview man remembered this saying when he recently received a check in the mail for $4,450.00 along with a notification that he had won a “Mega Million Sweepstakes” that he did not remember entering. Aware of similar “winnings” that were actually scams, the man contacted Longview Officer John Rolls and discovered that he had wisely avoided becoming a victim.
The scams vary in the type of winnings (lottery, sweepstakes, old inheritance, etc.) but are all the same in how the victim is “taken”. The scammers mail out hundreds or thousands of letters announcing the recipient has won some type of contest or lottery and have a large amount of money coming to them. The letter informs the recipient that they will owe taxes on the money they’ve won and the letter is accompanied by a check, that is always made out for an amount larger than the taxes the scammer is purporting they will owe.
The recipient is asked to call a number or to mail the payment in for the amount of taxes, which seems like a good deal, since the recipient has received a check for a larger amount. The only problem is the checks that accompany these letters are fraudulent and your bank will hold you responsible for the funds you’ve mailed to the scammers.
If you receive a letter announcing winnings that is unexpected, contact the Longview Police or your banking institution before acting on it!
No sweepstakes, lottery or other winnings should require payment to receive the actual winnings. Income taxes on winnings are made to the United States Internal Revenue Service, not individual financial services or individuals.