INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 9, 2015) – A scam targeting seniors is making its way around central Indiana. The ploy involves getting older residents to deposit a bogus check and then pay legal fees to claim a big monetary prize.
The scheme begins when a senior citizen gets a letter in the mail stating they have won $2.5 million from Publishers Clearing House. The letter instructs the recipient not to tell anyone they won the contest. One elderly woman got such a letter and had a few doubts – so she showed it to Valerie Moore, the Indianapolis Housing Agency Senior Program Coordinator. Moore noticed a few red flags.
The first issue Moore noticed involved the $6,820 check that came with the letter. The letter stated the money was to cover insurance and attorney fees.
“I looked at the check and it looked perfect, totally legit,” Moore said. “Then I looked at who the check was from. It was from a custom design company in Evansville, Indiana. I said that’s not relevant to Publishers Clearing House.”
So, Moore did some research online and called the company listed on the check.
“The lady who answered told me they had received the same calls from other people who had checks from Publishers Clearing House with their return information on there,” Moore said.
The zip code for the design company was wrong on the check, Moore said. The lady she talked to on the phone let her know they were not involved with any Publishers Clearing House contest.
If someone deposits the bogus check and then spends the money, they would eventually be held responsible for the funds by a bank for using a bad check.
The Publishers Clearing House website warns about these fake check scams. They also say their big prizes are presented in person and with no advance notification.