The San Francisco Police Department has issued a public safety announcement about a check scam making the rounds. From the press release:
In this fraud, the potential victim is mailed a letter purporting to be a representative of a British organization called The National Lottery, which is non-existent. Accompanying the letter is a fraudulent Chase Bank check. The letter states that the potential victim has won $135,000 in U.S. dollars. The enclosed check, payable to the potential victim whose name appears on the check, is in the amount of $3,750 in U.S. dollars, which as the letter explains, is the amount that has been withdrawn from the potential victim’s “winnings” to pay a U.K. tax for non-residents. The check is to reimburse the recipient for this withdrawal.
The letter explains that $1,960 U.S. dollars is required to pay this tax, which is allegedly payable through a fictitious tax agent through Money Gram and Western Union money transfer. (Elated by the $3,750 check, the potential victim may overlook the fact that the subtracted $3,750 supposedly covered the tax, as explained in the letter.) Once payment is received, the lottery claims affiliate states that the balance of the winnings will be remitted.
Police are asking that people not try to cash the check, because they may either be detained at the bank for a crime in progress or told that the check can’t be cashed because of insufficient funds.
Police also warn not to call the phone numbers provided in the letter or respond by email:
If so, the sender may “data-mine” telephone numbers and email addresses associated with you. Data-mining is a technique that criminals use to extract more information from you without your knowledge. That information can be sold to others for purposes of identity theft or used for another scam.
If you’ve been a victim of this scam or have any information, police ask that you contact the Financial Crimes Unit at 415-553-1521 or the anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444.