Don't fall victim to this sweepstakes scam(Editor's note: This story appeared in the Detroit Lakes Tribune about a sweepstakes scam that has also been reported in the Alexandria area.)
By: Nathan Bowe , Detroit Lakes Tribune
(Editor's note: This story appeared in the Detroit Lakes Tribune about a sweepstakes scam that has also been reported in the Alexandria area.)
Several Detroit Lakes residents have fallen prey to scams in the past week or so, and the police department is warning residents to be especially wary of unsolicited calls and letters.
Patrol Sgt. Chad Glander said one woman lost $4,800 and a middle-aged couple is out $2,900 after they responded to letters they received from Canada.
Both letters claimed they were sweepstakes winners and both contained bogus checks, which were deposited.
The woman eventually wired money out of the country and the couple spent money they didn’t have, before realizing they had been scammed.
“This stuff comes from outside the United States. There was no return address on the envelope. The bottom line is, if it’s too good to be true, it is,” Glander said.
Scam sweepstakes letters usually follow the same pattern, he said. They claim the recipient has won several hundred thousand dollars and they include a check for several thousand dollars to pay processing fees.
The “winners” are urged to keep it secret and to contact a “claims representative” who tries to talk them into wiring money or depositing the check.
“If people get one of these things they need to very carefully verify it or bring it in to us and we can verify it for them,” Glander said. “The main thing is don’t deposit anything until you have verified the authenticity — 99.9 percent of the time it’s bogus.”
Those who have responded to scam letters or calls may end up getting even more unwanted attention from con operators because they may end up on a so-called “sucker list” of previous victims.
Glander said such lists are sold to criminals and the best option for those on the receiving end of doubtful phone calls, emails or letters is “not to respond” in any way.
Harassing calls and similar activity should be reported to the police.
The Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Echo Press are owned by Forum Communications Company.