Sweepstakes scam resurfaces in Colonial Heights

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - Fake check scammers are on the prowl again, looking to separate you from your money. This time the scam artists are connecting themselves with big name stores to help trick residents. The sweepstakes scam has resurfaced in our area.

Robert Holzner thought he won the lottery when he got a check and a letter in the mail claiming he was the big winner of consumer promotion draw.

"Oh yeah, I wanted to cash it, but then my mind said you better not cash it," Holzner said.

Good thing he didn't. It's a sweepstakes scam. Here's how it works. The letter claims your name was attached to an entry slip that was filled out at Walmart, Sears, or Home Depot. Attached to the letter is a check. The letter instructs you to cash the check and wire a portion of it to cover the taxes on your winnings. Once that's done, there's a promise of a larger award check.

"You go deposit that checks, you cash it and then you send the money. Then you later find out the checks no good. That money comes out of your account," said Sergeant Tom Kifer, Colonial Height's Police Department.

Police say this sweepstakes scam is making a comeback. The difference this time - the scam artists are connecting big name stores to help trick residents. Colonial Heights police issued an alert, warning residents not to fall for the flimflam.

"If it sounds too good to be true it probably is and don't let greed get the best of you. That's what these scams are really playing on," said Kifer.

Police say warning signs of the scam include: pressure to act in a hurry, a requirement to pay to receive a prize, and getting a large check with your notification.

Holzner has gotten several prize winning notices in the past month. He reported the first letter to police, the rest....

"I just burned it up," he said.

Police say since many of these scams originate outside of the United States and once you fall for the fraud it's next to impossible to get that cash back.

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