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Scam alert: Lottery con is no jackpot

Staff writer

An increase has been seen in mail and e-mail scams in recent weeks, and consumers should be careful to protect themselves.

Jody Rempel at Peabody State Bank said there have been several cases of one scam. A letter arrives in the mail and says the recipient has won a lottery or sweepstakes, and a genuine-looking check is included. It says all the recipient needs to do is cash the check and wire part of the money back for “processing fees.”

By the time the check is identified as a counterfeit, it’s too late for the consumer to get back the money they wired.

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” Rempel said.

Marion Police Chief Josh Whitwell said people receiving these fraudulent checks should report it to local law enforcement.

“If you’re getting a prize, you shouldn’t have to send back any money,” Whitwell said.

Roberta Namee, a manager of the Better Business Bureau serving southeast, central, and western Kansas, said consumers can take a few steps to protect themselves.

If the return address is outside the U.S., it most likely is a fraud. Consumers also can check for fraud alerts on Web sites like www.bbb.org or www.phonebusters.com.

If consumers have not had any dealings with the suspicious group before, they also can contact the state attorney general’s office for alerts, said Elizabeth Wine, Great Plains Federal Credit Union branch manager in Hillsboro.

Last modified Nov. 19, 2008

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