On Canadian Scam (kinda long).

I received a letter, on beautiful stationary, last week from what purported to be a Gaming Company in Canada. It seems they had a bunch of unclaimed lottery prize money that they had to give away and they did it by selecting names from 411 directories. My name had been chosen and there was a $297000 prize waiting for me. Enclosed was a check for $2400, written by a company in San Luis Obispo, CA, acting as their US agent, that was to be used to pay the advance taxes on the prize. More tax would of course be owed. The letter said that the check had a hold on it so it couldn’t be cashed until I had contacted them and made “necessary arrangements.”

There was a web address and a toll free 888 number to call. I tried the toll free number which led nowhere. It started out with the usual “If you know your party’s extension enter it now.” After a short pause I was told to press 1 to speak with a representative. I pressed 1 and some music came on. Then a voice told me to press 1 to return to the main menu which I did. And then the above sequence repeated. An obvious dead end.

So I tried to contact them through the web address which had a “Contact Us” feature. However after I followed the procedure I got back the email error message that the message couldn’t be delivered and then a couple of days later the message of a delivery failure. Odd.
The company that was their “US agent” in San Luis Obispo that wrote the check has a web site. It is a worldwide express company with offices in about 5 large cities, so it is a legitimate concern. So today I called them, explained that I had this check and asked if this was a real check or a scam. I was directed to the comptroller and I left a voice mail message explaining that I had this check and asking for a return call.

I got the return call and she asked if the check number was 98765 and the check was for $2400. When I answered yes she said that it was a scam and that somehow someone had gotten one of their bank account numbers and there were many of these checks floating around.

Someone put quite a bit into this scam. The letter was on high quality paper, sort of a rosy gray color with all of the bells and whistles of a real corporate letterhead. And the check was high quality printing on heavy watermarked paper with the usual notices about security features, etc.

But there were also several other clues from the start, besides their screwy toll free number and web site, that the thing was a fraud. When I Googled their name I got no hits on it although there were hits on other Canadian gaming corporations, like the Ontario Gaming Corporation. Yahoo Maps said that the address for the company didn’t exist. The street address of their US agent is 1234 Umptyump ST. On the check the mailing address was P.O. Box No 1234, and the address of the bank on which the check was drawn, in Salinas, CA, was wrong according to the bank,s website. However, all of those things could possibly be explained and a call to the San Luis Opispo company was a surer way to find out whether or not this thing was a setup for some sort of scam.

It was.

Can you figure out what the scam is? Maybe depositing the check would give them your bank account number or something?

Well, the letter spoke of a “process” with “steps” in order to get the prize so I assume that somewhere along the line, after the mark is convinced that the money is as good as his, a request for some information about your finances, bank accounts, credit cards or what-have-you would been casually slipped in. These folks are very good at what they do.

Good with the set up but they suck at the follow through. You think they’d be a little easier to contact.

Great lure, but no fishin’ pole? (That’s a pretty feeble attempt at an analogy. Sorry.)

What’s the point of trying to scam you (which it obviously was, and you knew it, too–there is no such thing as amazing free money for you, YOU! at random. Okay, not in this world that I know of, anyway) if you couldn’t reach them to let them know they had a sucker hooked?

Dumb scammers.

On looking back I discover that I forgot an item. Included in the package was a “non-disclosure form.” The non-disclosure was to be effective until the money was actually paid. The form was to be signed and faxed to a phone number on the form. I never faxed the form but I suspect that those who did got a call from the scammers and things proceeded from there.

You should fax in the form,. see what happens next.

Based on the title, I was expecting to hear that you’d received a letter like…

"Dear Friend:

            I am Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada. I have millions of dollars my Party and I have pilfered from the Canadian treasury, and need a bank account in America to deposit it in..."

Good one!

I’ve received about a half dozen automated voice mails in the last few weeks telling me I’ve won some fantabulous Florida vacation and Carribean cruise for a mere $199. But I must call back immediately to claim the prize.

beeep (sound of me hitting the delete key)

Will you PLEASE follow through?? It could be great fun. String these guys along and then turn on them at the last minute.

Good times!

[quote=Uncommon SenseWill you PLEASE follow through?? It could be great fun. String these guys along and then turn on them at the last minute.[/quote]

I am reminded of the time two of my nephews were on a farm for the first time. While playing around the yard they came across a strange object (a hand-crank corn sheller) and the older one, 10, said to the younger, 8, “Turn the handle, let’s see what happens.” To which the younger responded, “You turn it and see what happens.”

Awright, gimme the damn fax number…