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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 08, 2005
Consumer Alert: Washington Residents Targeted for Lottery and Prize Scams

UPDATE -- July 2010 -- Nova Trust's name is being used in another fake check scam.

SPOKANE & SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna today warned consumers to be wary of two apparently separate scams in Eastern and Western Washington.

EASTERN WASHINGTON LOTTERY SCAM
The Attorney General’s Office in Spokane has received at least five calls this week from Eastern Washington residents regarding lottery scams.

“Cons are at it again, trying to trick people into wiring money with promises of big winnings,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said.

In one instance, a Spokane resident received a letter from “Nova Trust Financial Inc.” stating that he won $715,810 in a “Lottery Draw.” An authentic-looking check for $4,500 was included. The mailing envelope bears a South Africa postmark.

In a similar case, a Malott resident received a letter from “Mutual Financial Services” declaring that he won $250,000 in the “De-Lotto Switzerland Sweepstakes.” A check for $4,880 was included. The mailing envelope bears a Canadian postmark.

In both cases, recipients were advised to cash the check, keep part of the money, and send a wire transfer to cover fees in order to recover their remaining “winnings”.

Even if a check looks good and you cash it, you can still be out, McKenna warned. That’s because banks are obligated to make deposits available within 48 hours, but it can take weeks for a check to clear. Once the check bounces, the funds will usually be withdrawn from your account.

“You can’t legally play a foreign lottery in the United States,” McKenna added.

WESTERN WASHINGTON PRIZE SCAM
Attorney General’s Office in Seattle received a report about an elderly woman who received a call from someone claiming that Windermere Real Estate was giving away $100,000 and she had been named the winner.

The caller said that someone would deliver a check, but if the woman wanted to save on taxes, she needed to send a check for $500 to a man in Burnaby, B.C.

The woman, who lives in Arlington, reported the call to a Windermere agent. She said that several of her friends had received similar phone calls.

Windermere is not running a sweepstakes at this time.

“Legitimate businesses will never ask you to send money or provide personal information in order to receive a prize,” McKenna said.

REPORTING FAKE CHECK SCAMS

If you think you’ve been targeted by a counterfeit check scam, report it to the following agencies:

The Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov or 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service:  https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov

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Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432, kalexander@atg.wa.gov

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