December 10, 2010
DiNapoli Warns of Mysterious Sweepstakes Scam Using Fake State Checks
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today warned of a mysterious sweepstakes scam involving fraudulent checks that appear to have been issued by New York State.
“These days many people could use some extra cash; this particular scam is especially shameful because it’s occurring during the holiday season at a time when people can be particularly vulnerable,” DiNapoli said. “People need to remember that what sounds too good to be true all too often is. No legitimate check from the State of New York would ever be used as part of a mystery sweepstakes program. If you receive one of these fraudulent checks, please report it to the police.”
The fraud works this way: scammers send potential victims a letter telling them that they won hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sweepstakes prize from a “USA Mega” drawing that allegedly took place in August. A company calling itself Alpha Finance Services claims to have been assigned to inform winners of their prize and to pay them off accordingly. The company’s supposed address is located in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The letter asks individuals to contact a claims agent during daytime hours between Monday and Saturday to “activate” a phony check that has been mailed to them. This check allegedly would cover the recipient’s tax liability that is attached to the prize winning. To activate the phony check, they are directed to send thousands of dollars of their own money to the agent.
It even “cautions” recipients of the letter not to act on the notice until they’ve contacted this claims agent “to avoid cases of misappropriation and mishandling of prize monies.”
Included with the letter is a counterfeit New York State check for thousands of dollars.
Anyone with questions or concerns about this scam should contact local law enforcement officials or the New York State Comptroller’s office toll free at 1-888-OSC-4555.