Lottery scam is too good to be true

Thursday, August 11th 2005, 6:22 pm
By: News On 6

Most everyone knows by now letters saying you've won the lottery are rip-offs because they always need money from you in order to collect your winnings. But a new lottery scam wants no money from you and in fact, mails you a check for thousands.

News on 6 anchor Lori Fullbright met Linda Richmond. She works two jobs just to pay her bills. She usually throws junk mail away without even looking at it. But, this letter caught her eye because it had a check in it, made out to her for nearly $5,000.

The letter says she was one of 17 people who won the Canadian lottery and they each get $139,000. She was suspicious, but, since she'd bought a Canadian lottery ticket last year, she picked up the phone.

Linda Richmond, Scam Victim: "I called the number and asked, what do I need to send? They were like, nothing, no money out of your pocket. This is your money, you won the lottery."

They told her to cash the check and wire part of the money to Atlanta to pay the taxes on her winnings and send the rest to Canada to pay the courier fees. She so desparately wanted it to be true.

Linda Richmond: "You've got a check from a legitimate bank. It's hard. You think of all that could happen, but, then you think, it could be the real thing."

However, no $139,000 ever arrived, and her bank called to say that $5,000 with her name on it was no good. She had to get a cash advance on a credit card to pay back the bank and even though she's embarrassed, she wanted to warn others.

Because this scam does come with a check, it's going to get a lot of people. Know matter how tempting it is, you must tear it up and throw it away. Linda didn't and is now devastated.

Linda Richmond: "I know it's the stupidest thing I've done in my life. I never thought it would happen to me."

Linda says the red flags she normally looked for, were absent. The address in Georgia and Canada weren't PO boxes. The check said it was from the well respected bank JP Morgan and of course, they didn't want any money from her.

But as folks get smart to these scams, the scammers change their ways. No one should ever cash a check for a stranger for any reason. Not only will you have to cover that money, you could go to jail for check fraud.