Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scam goes retro to get after local couple

Karen Armstrong, Lawrence, was told she was the winner of a $3,000 check for being a sweepstakes winner. The problem was that the check was issued on a closed account and was part of a mail scam.

Karen Armstrong, Lawrence, was told she was the winner of a $3,000 check for being a sweepstakes winner. The problem was that the check was issued on a closed account and was part of a mail scam.

December 10, 2008


Spot the fakes

Many scams involve asking a person to deposit a check and then transmit some of the proceeds to the sender, usually in a foreign country.

In September, a 65-year-old Salina woman lost thousands of dollars in a scheme in which she deposited what she thought was a U.S. Treasury check for $456,000. She then withdrew $170,000 to wire to England. About a month later, the $456,000 check came back as counterfeit.

The woman did not have the funds to cover the loss.

Learn more about how to recognize check scams at

“We are pleased to inform you that you are one of the declared winners of the North American Shopper Sweepstake held on September 15th, 2008 in the 3th category.”

That’s the opening to a letter — typo and all — that Lawrence residents John and Karen Armstrong recently received. In the envelope with the letter was a check for $3,000 from an existing financial firm in Minneapolis. The letter claims this is the first step toward receiving a total of $100,000.

The Armstrongs knew immediately that they had been targeted in a fraud scheme. A neighboring couple had received a similar letter and check several months earlier.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Karen Armstrong said. “I was pretty mad when that happened to them.”

The Kansas Attorney General’s office recently issued a warning about “a new twist on an old scam,” in which well-recognized business names are used. The recipient of the mailing supposedly is getting a notice of winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes entry.

The recipient is asked to deposit the check in their bank account, then wire money using Western Union or MoneyGram back to the issuer of the check to pay “clearance or processing fees.” The person is asked to call a number with an area code in Quebec, Canada, to release the rest of the winnings.

The Armstrongs’ neighbors who received a letter and check are immigrants from Cuba. They took their mailing to the Armstrongs, seeking their opinion. The Armstrong’s son, Joe Armstrong, a Kansas University student, did some detective work and confirmed the fraud scheme.

Joe Armstrong called the number in Canada and found that “things didn’t match up,” and he called the bank where the check was supposedly issued. The bank said the check that had been sent was from a closed account and that the letter was fraudulent, he said.

Atty. Gen. Steve Six noted in a consumer alert his office issued that the only legal lottery in Kansas is the Kansas State Lottery. And legitimate sweepstakes winnings do not require advance payment of fees or taxes. They are collected by government agencies, not a company.


John Hamm 9 years, 4 months ago

If it isn't "registered" mail it isn't real.

John Hamm 9 years, 4 months ago

If it isn't "registered" mail it isn't real and even then it might not be.

jayhawkgrandma 9 years, 4 months ago

I was a victim of a similar scam last spring. The one thing that was different, though, was that the company did not say anything about sending them any money in order to get more. They sent me a check which I deposited in the bank and paid a couple of bills. Then my bank called and told me that the check was no good. So, I not only had to repay my bank for the money orders, but also the 2 utility companies that I paid. The company did not exist and according to what my bank told me, it was an unusual scam saying that I had won in the first round in a lottery and that I would be entered into another "pot" for even more money. I had to learn the hard way. Just beware.

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

The banks could easily catch these scams, but they love to screw you out of more of your money. Your bank fees are greatly appreciated.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

Some really simple facts to remember:1. If it seems to good to be true - - it is.2. NO One you do not know is going to send you money.3. If you have to pay a "shipping charge" or "tax" then why can't they just deduct that from the "money" they are sending you???? (Things that make you go hmmmmm)4. If you don't know anybody in a foreign country - why would anyone send you anything, much less money.Another big one going around is if you have something for sale, rent, or lease - someone wants to pay more than the asking price and asks you to send the extra to a "shipper" for them.I used to say look at the english and grammer, but after reading so many texters that post on here, I am not sure that is valid any more. English is a forgotten skill anymore.

Evan Ridenour 9 years, 4 months ago

I worked at a local bank in town and we had almost the same scam occurring IN Canada using our banks routing number on fake cashiers checks. I had to deal with literally 50 calls a day from pissed off people thinking WE ripped them off.Anyone who falls for a scam like this does not have my sympathy. If you are too greedy to look at this situation and NOT see a scam you deserve what is coming to you. It reminds me of Social Darwinism...

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

Eride ++++++ (marks I give that post!!!)Greed is a powerful thing.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 4 months ago

I have been around a long, long time, and never got anything free (that was worth having). If it's sounds too good to be true... it is.

Kyle Reed 9 years, 4 months ago

It would seem that winning a contest you didn't enter might be a red flag as well. Maybe that's just me...

KayCee 9 years, 4 months ago

Ours was from Madrid, Spain, and wanting 'info' re: bank account, routing no. etc. Then they could send 'our lottery winning'. LOL

Ray Miller 9 years, 4 months ago

"I used to say look at the english and grammer, but after reading so many texters that post on here, I am not sure that is valid any more. English is a forgotten skill anymore."Sadly, this is true, especially when it comes to spelling. The word is "grammar."

momof4 9 years, 4 months ago

rjmwx81,I about spewed out my soda when I read that!!! Also, which is correct, any more or anymore? KSA has it both ways!

Zype 9 years, 4 months ago

How is this big news?These scams have been around forever. I've received dozens of them over the years. You just throw them away like all the other junk mail.

MattressMan 9 years, 4 months ago

Here is the first line an e-mail I recently received. It went on and on urging me to contact the Central Bank of Nigeria so they could help me get what I have coming.ROBERT MUELLER IIIEXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FBIFEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FBI.WASHINGTON DC.Email: washington.fieldic.fbi.govFBI SEEKING TO WIRETAP INTERNETGOOD DAY:We the Federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Washington, DC in conjunction with some other relevant security Agencies here in the United states of America have recently been informed through our Global intelligence monitoring network that you presently have a transaction going on with the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), regards to your over-due contract payment which was fully endorsed in your favor accordingly.Boy how lucky can I be!

Sigmund 9 years, 4 months ago

Any more (two words) means "no more"; anymore (one word) means "now," "currently," "at this time."

greenworld 9 years, 4 months ago

So who are the bigger scammers your bank when they charge you fees or the scam artist themselves. Anything that says that you have won money and have to pay something back in the same swing is a huge red flag I would think. Unless I receive a check from the Kansas Powerball that says I have won a million dollars I would never believe anything else.

Thinking_Out_Loud 9 years, 4 months ago

rjmwx81 quoted somebodynew's post: “I used to say look at the english and grammer, but after reading so many texters that post on here, I am not sure that is valid any more. English is a forgotten skill anymore.” Then rjmwx81 noted: "Sadly, this is true, especially when it comes to spelling. The word is “grammar.”rjmwx81 failed to note, however, that "English" should be capitalized.

50YearResident 9 years, 4 months ago

This type of scam could be eliminated if the police or the banks would set up bank account numbers which potential victims could give to the scammers and then when the scammers access the account to withdraw funds the destination information would be transfered to the FBI and they could track down the scammers and arrest them.

KansasPerson 9 years, 4 months ago

Additionally:"The adverb 'anymore' is standard American English when it is used in a negative sense, as in 'I don't do that anymore.' It is a regional or dialectal usage, mostly restricted to spoken English, when it is used in a positive sense, meaning 'nowadays', as in 'Anymore I do that' or 'I do that anymore.'" ( "English is a forgotten skill anymore.")I know it's "regional or dialectal" which (I assume) means that it shouldn't make your brain scream even though it isn't "standard English." But it makes me wince anyway, as does the almost universal misuse of "although."Examples: "I didn't want to go out today because of the ice. Although, I did go to Dillons and buy some milk." Or -- "I don't read the comments section. Although, this one is pretty interesting." You hear this ALL THE TIME and it's not standard English at all. And lest you think I'm being picky, IT'S MARKED WRONG ON STANDARDIZED WRITING TESTS, so if you teach it to your children, their scores will go down.To be correct, you can substitute "however" in the above sentences. if you still want to use "although," you can do it like this: "Although it was icy, I still went to Dillons." "Although the comments section today is about a scam, I couldn't resist putting in a gratuitous grammar lesson that'll probably get me flamed."Please forgive any mistakes I've made in this post. I'm not claiming to be perfect. These are just two things that bug me. I make a lot of goofs too.

maxcrabb 9 years, 4 months ago

Although I made the mistake before, I now know the correct usage of the word 'although'.However, you could just say I don't do that anymore.Thanks KansasPerson!

jayhawkgrandma 9 years, 4 months ago

As clarification, I do enter a lot of online sweepstakes and contests so I just assumed that maybe, finally, I had won something besides a year's supply of Turtle Wax or Juicy Fruit Gum. Call me naive and stupid and I will agree. But when you are way behind in your bills and one of these checks arrives, you want so much to believe that it's real. Plus, the clerk at the bank took it right away with no questions whatsoever. I have learned to be more careful the hard way.

Kyle Reed 9 years, 4 months ago

jayhawkgrandma: In your situation I wouldn't necessarily say it is fair to brand you as naive and stupid as they didn't ask you for money in return. I suppose you could have called the bank the check was drafted on to check the legitimacy of it, but aside from that bit of due diligence if you enter a lot of sweepstakes online I don't see that it was unreasonable for you to think you actually won something.That being said most of those "winning" checks DO in fact require money being sent in as part of the "winning" process. Someone falling for those I would certianly say are naive and stupid.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

I am sorry for your troubles jayhawkgrandma, it is a real shame that some people will take advantage of anyone.rjmwx81 - Even if I did mis-spell, you at least understood what I was saying and I used some form of punctuation (probably not grammatically correct - but there is something there).

bevy 9 years, 4 months ago

There was another "old school" scam I heard about on the radio this morning. Folks in Jackson Co. got calls saying their debit cards had been frozen due to a problem with their account information. If they would just call and provide the info, the accounts would be unfrozen. (Or should I say thawed?) I was pleased to hear that no one fell for it.I always say this: If you wouldn't believe something if you saw it printed on the front page of a supermarket tabloid, don't believe it if it's in your mail - or your e-mail.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

Donnuts - ? Did you just leave the bar before you tried to write this?? Hopefully you can explain??? It may be me, but I am missing a whole lot here.

maxcrabb 9 years, 4 months ago

Donnuts did this on another post... same story word for word.Maybe it's code?

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

max - I just saw that. I am guessing you might be right. It is probably hush-hush so we probably shouldn't talk about it..Right??

bearded_gnome 9 years, 4 months ago

I recently recieved an e-mail saying that a "world bank" had ordered an "african bank" to send me a million dollars in its efforts to fight poverty, and assist with the world financial crisis! no kidding. bailouts have come to the scammers!

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