February 2, 2007
You may be getting some mail announcing something that's really too good to be true: lottery checks for lots and lots of money.
The trouble is, almost all of them are fake.
12 On Your Side reporter Jeff Anderson has a Family Fraud Alert on this unlucky lottery.
It almost seems like a dream come true. You open your mailbox, and inside is a check that says you've won an unbelievable amount of money.
But if you deposit that check, you may cash in on a lot more problems than you can afford to deal with.
Sara Carr has always had control of her kitchen...but about a week ago, she lost control of what she calls her good sense.
"I feel so low and embarrassed," she said.
Sara recently got a letter in the mail saying she won hundreds of thousands of dollars from a lottery, and she called the number on the letter to get her money.
"They said, 'You got to pay tax since it's coming from out of the country'," she told 12 On Your Side.
So she deposited the $4000 check that came with the letter. Then she sent $2975 for the so-called tax.
But it didn't stop there...she was told to send almost $1700 more just a little later.
It turns out that check she deposited was bogus and the lottery winnings never existed.
"The bank called me and told me I was overdraft by $4000."
That's $4000 this retired widow doesn't have.
And Sara's not the only one. Julia Johnson got a similar letter a few weeks ago.
"I was like, 'Wow, it's my lucky day'," she said.
Julia too had won the fake lottery. Also inside her envelope was a check, but she was skeptical, so she took it to the Better Business Bureau.
"He just looked at it and said, 'Don't cash it.'"
The Better Business Bureau says some hints on the check should raise a red flag. There was a "CA" next to the "US. That indicates a supposed Canadian lottery...which you aren't supposed to participate in anyway. In fact, if you do, says the BBB, you could be prosecuted.
Unfortunately, that's something Sara Carr didn't know before now. If she did, she might not be out nearly $5000. It's a lesson she's learned the hard way.
"I thought it was a gift," she said. "It was a gift...for them, not me."
12 On Your Side called the businesses that the checks were supposed to be coming from. It turns out the checks were stolen and then forged.
Here are some quick words to the wise: if you haven't played the lottery or entered a sweepstakes and you get a lottery check in the mail, chances are it's a fake.