Con Artists Use Tulsa Firms To Market Scam

Wednesday, January 21st 2009, 5:24 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa bank is working to stop a national scam that has put it in an unwanted spotlight.  The scam is like so many others that promise lottery winnings if the person who receives the letter wires money back.

The U.S. Department of Justice says victims of a fake check scam lose an average of $3,000.  Now, a Tulsa-based bank wants you to beware one of those scams is using its good name.

"It upsets me that people try to use people like that," said Tulsan Joel Singley.

Joel Singley thought something was strange when he read this letter.  It came from something called Standard Trust in Nova Scotia and said he won $250,000 in a lottery.  It came with a check for nearly $5,000, asked him to deposit it and then send a portion of that money to the Canadian company.           

But, it was the names of two Tulsa businesses printed on the check that got Joel's attention:  Valley National Bank and PennWell.

"And, reading the letter and everything here in town it sounded logical because the bank is here in town.  PennWell is here in town," said Tulsan Joel Singley.

PennWell declined to comment.  But, Valley National Bank says it's very familiar with the scam.

"It's a counterfeit check," said Mary Brown with Valley National Bank.

In fact, Mary Brown says the Tulsa bank has been getting calls from would be victims from across the country.

"Every place from Maine, Connecticut, Texas, Utah," said Mary Brown with Valley National Bank.

The fraudsters, as Brown calls them, pick banks at random then spend quite a bit of effort to forge the checks.

"Either make up an account number or steal an account number out of the mail and then they print these checks their self," said Mary Brown with Valley National Bank.

The News On 6 called the number on the letter but only heard a recording.

Joel heard the same recording when he called.  It said the call couldn't be routed due to a technical issue.  Now, he wants others to be aware of the scam.

Brown agrees saying if you get something similar don't be afraid to be a skeptic.

"If you didn't play in a lottery, you're not going to win a lottery.  And, if it's too good to be true, it usually is," said Mary Brown with Valley National Bank.

Brown reminds, if a victim deposits the check then uses the money, they will be held responsible and not the company.