The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been made aware of a scam using a Canton, OH businesses name and address for the purpose of operating a foreign lottery scam.
The BBB was contacted by a consumer late last week who received a prize notification informing them they had won the USA/EUROPE SWEEPSTAKES MILLION DOLLAR DRAWS. The letter claims the recipient has won winnings totally $250,000,000.
The letter appears to come from a company by the name of Capital Funds located in New York that includes a check ranging from $2000 - $5000. The letter instructs the recipient to contact claims agent Frank Harris at 647-501-6515 to activate the check and begin the claim process. The consumer is instructed by the claims agent, they are a winner of the Readers Digest Sweepstakes and instructed to deposit the check and return $218.82 to pay for taxes, insurance, handling & shipping fees. Once the insurance fee is received the consumer will be mailed their prize winnings.
The enclosed checks indicate they are drawn off the OHIO VALLEY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION located in Batavia, Ohio. The check appears to come from a local credit union by the name of STARK METRO HOUSING using the same address as SMHA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION.
After contacting Stark Metro Housing Credit Union and speaking with a company representative, the BBB has verified the checks are NOT being sent by Stark Metro Housing and Stark Metro Housing Credit Union is in no way affiliated with this scam.
Amanda Tietze, VP of Public Relations with he BBB states, "consumers should never have to pay any money in advance to receive any prize winnings. If they ask you to send them money before you receive your winnings, it's a scam".
Ms. Tietze, further cautions "If you deposit the check, it will bounce within a couple of days and you will be responsible for the full amount of the check".
The BBB advises the following tips for anyone receiving a foreign lottery notification:
- You should not have to pay any sort of monies in advance to claim a prize.
- Be leery if you are to wire or Western Union any funds especially if the location is out of the country.
- If you have wired money and been scammed, the BBB advises you to contact local law enforcement.
- A good rule of thumb to remember - if you didn't enter to win a specific sweepstakes, you are not the winner and the notification is not real.
- If you receive an unexpected check that appears to be from a local business, verify with the business and contact them personally to find out if the check is legitimate.