Janesville woman knew letter was a scam
There was no way the enclosed check for $5,340 was legitimate.
And there certainly was no way she was going to see a single penny of either amount.
Rose Richmond, 74, figured out pretty quickly that the letter she received Oct. 21 was a scam.
According to the letter, she'd won third place in a $15 million grand prize drawing from Publishers Clearing House, supposedly sponsored by Martha Stewart Living magazine, and she was to promptly call a representative to claim her winnings.
The check, which came from a company called Plant City Internal Medicine in Plant City, Fla., was drawn on an account at a St. Petersburg, Fla., bank. The check was supposed to cover any outstanding fees not already paid by Publishers Clearing House, the letter said.
"I laid it off to the side," Richmond said. "But then I picked it up and read through it again."
That's when she noticed things weren't right: Words were misspelled, letters weren't capitalized and the check simply didn't look like a typical check.
"None of these things dawned on me at first," Richmond said. "But I had in the back of my mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Richmond called attorney Marc McCrory for advice. (She joked that even if the letter turned out to be legitimate, she'd need an attorney with a million bucks coming her way.)
McCrory looked over the letter and the check, searching for fine print that might explain the situation. His search—complete with a magnifying glass—turned up nothing.
He called the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection to report the scam.
The department told him there could be as many as 25,000 such letters targeting people in Wisconsin alone.
McCrory said this is the way the scam works:
People call the phone number provided to claim their winnings. The representative tells them to deposit the check and then send the company a money order for $3,300.
But the check is fraudulent and bounces, and the person is not only out the money they deposited but also is responsible for any fees incurred.
Richmond said without a closer look, the letter and the check could have easily duped her.
"I just don't want to see somebody else scammed by this," she said.