Fake Lottery Warning

Manistique, MI — Sheriff Harris wants the citizens of Schoolcraft County to be aware scammers are now targeting your bank account via a lottery check scam.

The Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports from local residents who have received checks that appear to be legitimate in the mail with a letter claiming the recipient has won and “international lottery”. Sheriff Harris warns the residents of Schoolcraft County these checks are counterfeit and just another attempt by scam artists to take your hard earned money.

Here is how this “lottery” scam works: You receive a letter in the mail indicating you are the winner of a large cash prize in an “international lottery”. The letter is accompanied by a realistic looking check. The amount of these checks varies from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. The letter indicates the check is to cover taxes you must pay before you can claim your prize. You are instructed to deposit the check in your bank account and immediately forward the funds to a processing representative or tax authority – usually a post office box in another country. The letter says you are required to forward the funds by Western Union Money Gram, cashier’s check or money order. The “check” you have deposited bounces – since the account it is drawn on doesn’t exist. However, by the time you are notified of this you have already sent the funds back out via irretrievable Money Gram, cashier’s check or money order. You are left with a deficit in your account and the possibility of criminal charges for passing a bad check.

“Remember a legitimate lottery will never ask you to pay taxes up front,” said Sheriff Harris. “Legitimate lotteries, like the Michigan Lottery, will withhold any tax payment from your winnings.” In fact, the Michigan Lottery will never contact you to tell you that you’ve won the lottery. You have to contact them with your winning ticket number.

If you receive any suspicious checks in the mail report them to your local law enforcement agency. You should also file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office by calling 1-877-765-8388 or filling out their on-line complaint form.