Fraudulent check scam affects Natchez resident

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; At least one fraudulent check warned against by the Better Business Bureau has made it to Natchez.

Resident Edna Joseph said she received a check in an unmarked envelope earlier this week. The check for $2,998.75 from a company called Quaker was labeled Window Products Company in Freeburg, Mo.

It looks authentic, she said, and could have been cashed at a local bank.

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Along with the check came a letter from the United British Lotto saying Joseph had won the Euro Lotto of $95,000. The letter asks Joseph to deposit the enclosed check in a local bank or cash it to pay for a tax and clearance fee. Joseph was then to send that money to the enclosed address, minus a small percentage that was hers to keep. Next she would receive the full amount.

But Joseph, who has entered authentic sweepstakes before, wondered about this one and contacted her lawyer and the Better Business Bureau.

She found out the check was a fake. According to the BBB, consumers who cash the checks risk having to repay the money after the check is discovered to be a forgery.

BBB President Bill Moak said in the fall the number of calls about the bogus checks has risen sharply recently.

&8220;We are concerned about the number of people who receive these checks, think they are legitimate, then end up in trouble with the bank once the fraud is discovered,&8221; he said.

&8220;If you receive unsolicited checks in the mail with information about how to collect your winnings from a sweepstakes, by no means should you cash the check.&8221;

Moak said the checks are usually good enough to pass initial examination but are discovered as frauds in the national banking system.