Janesville30.5°

Janesville couple catches mail scam

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Jason Smathers
June 19, 2010
— At first glance, it looked real enough.

A check for $3,679 from a bank account at JP Morgan Chase, cleanly cut, complete with routing number and signature. An accompanying letter informed Don Jones that he had won a lottery from Reader’s Digest.


Jones was ecstatic.


“I was about to make arrangements at the airport for a flight out of town,” Jones joked.


But his wife, Judy, was more skeptical.


First off, the Janesville couple hadn’t subscribed to Reader’s Digest for some time.


Secondly, the letter, sent by “Thomas D. Tady,” said the couple had actually won $125,000. Yet, the letter said the check was sent to help pay a “Govt. Service Tax,” which would amount to $2,981.10. It then listed the number for an agent, who would receive their wire transfer.


On top of that, the also check seems to have been signed from beyond the grave by former President Gerald R. Ford.


After a quick Google search, Judy discovered it was a scam. A call to Reader’s Digest confirmed it. If Readers Digest had sent the check, it would have been in a certified, registered envelope.


The Joneses didn’t call the agent’s number listed on the letter, which has a Toronto area code. Several calls placed Thursday by the Gazette reached only an answering machine with a full mailbox.


Judy said the couple recently got out of a scam involving installation of a home security system. After that ordeal, she said they wouldn’t be taking any chances.


Although she was able to do a quick search through the Internet, Judy suspects some older couples might not have the means to discover the fraud before it’s too late. So she’s warning anyone else who might have gotten the letter.


“I just don’t want to see anyone be taken of their hard earned money,” she said. “It just irks me.”


REAL OR FAKE?

Have you gotten a check in the mail with a letter saying you’ve won lots of money? Here are some things to think about.


-- If the company or person sending it asks you to pay upfront, it’s likely a fraud. Be wary of letters that ask for personal information such as bank account or credit card numbers.


-- Do not cash the check or send money or information. While the check might clear at first, it might take weeks before it’s discovered to be a fake. If you’ve already cashed the check, the bank will demand the money back and can take legal action to get it.


-- Report it to the proper authorities. If you receive a check or letter through the mail attempting to scam you, fill out a fraud report with the U.S. Mail Inspection Service. Forms can be found at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MailFraudComplaint.aspx/ You also can contact local police or the Federal Trade Commission.
-- For more information, go online to the National Consumers League website on check scams at fakechecks.org/prevention-faqs.html or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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