CCSO warns of check scam in area

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sometimes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Investigator Ronnie White of the Crenshaw County Sheriff's Department is warning residents all over the county to be aware of a sweepstakes' and check-cashing scam that has been identified by the sheriff's office.

&#8220The resident receives a letter and a check from a reputable company, usually a very large company, so they think that the check is legitimate,” White said. &#8220However, if the person cashes the check, he or she has just committed the offense, while the fake company receives the cash.”

White said that a letter might come in the mail from a North-American Sweepstakes Lottery that claims the recipient is the winner of a large sum of money. However, according to the letter, the recipient must cash the enclosed check in order to cover the taxes on the winning monies.

&#8220One letter, for example, sends a check in the amount of $3,995,” White said. &#8220Then, they ask you to turn around and send them a check for $2,950 by Western Union or in the form of a money gram. That way, no real identification has to be shown in order to pick up the check the consumer sent.”

From that point, the recipient believes that he or she can keep the extra $1,045. But, that is not the case.

&#8220You will be held liable for that money because it is paid on a forged check,” he added.

The person who keeps the money can be charged with possession of a forged instrument, which is considered a Class A felony offense. The person could be subject to jail time if charged.

&#8220The customers are the victims here, but they will still have to pay back the money if they cash the check, which is why we want the public to be aware of what is going on,” White said.

If someone were to call the bank, it could run the check number and say that the check would be good because the companies that are named on the checks are real and usually have good credit.

White suggested that residents with computers could Google the address of the named company to verify the telephone number to see if it is the same as the company number listed in the letter.

&#8220Or, just call your local authorities if you receive something like this in the mail and you have any questions,” White said.