Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scam alert issued by Sheriff Hillstead

Over the past several weeks the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office has received a number of complaints concerning an ongoing scam, according to a press release from Sheriff Dennis Hillstead. There are several different variations by which the scam artists are attempting to deceive victims. The basic situation involves the victim receiving a letter from a company or organization that states it represents a lottery and that the person receiving the letter is a winner in that contest. Included in the notification is a check made out to the victim, usually the amount of this check is between $4000.00 and $5000.00. The check on first view appears legitimate.

The letter instructs the victim to deposit the check, then send the company back $3000.000 dollars to cover taxes and costs, and that once the company receives the $3000.00 the remaining winnings will be sent.

Phone calls to the number given are answered and what seems like appropriate information given. If the victim checks the company on the internet, it will also appear to be a legitimate company.

Unfortunately for the victim, approximately one to two weeks after depositing the check and returning the $3000.00, plus whatever of the amount over the $3000.0 that they spent, plus whatever bank costs may be charged to them, are lost when the check is stopped.

Many of these types of scams originate from out of the country and are almost impossible to track. The old adage, "If it seems too good to be true," it probably is. In most legitimate lotteries, the taxes are deducted before the winnings are paid out.

If you have been victimized by this scam, please contact your local police department or the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office, 715-386-4320.