Sheriff issues lottery scam alertSheriff Dennis Hillstead urges citizens in St. Croix County to be aware of a scam involving bogus lottery winnings.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Sheriff Dennis Hillstead urges citizens in St. Croix County to be aware of a scam involving bogus lottery winnings.
"The scam artists use several variations to deceive victims but the basic premise involves sending a legitimate looking letter from a company or organization that announces a person has won a lottery," the Sheriff said.
The notification includes a check for between $4,000 and $5,000 and instructs the person to deposit the check then send back $3,000 to cover taxes and costs. The company promises to send the remaining lottery winnings when it receives the money.
The check appears legitimate and phone calls to a number given are answered and appropriate information is supplied. If the victim checks the company on the internet, it appears on the up and up.
"In a week or two, after the check is deposited, the bank is notified the check is no good and the victim is out $3,000 plus bank charges," Hillstead said. "We have received a number of complaints about this type of scam."
"Many of these types of scams originate outside the United States and are almost impossible to track," the sheriff said. "We are working on finding the IPO address but there are a number of fake addresses you have to go through."
He said that there is really not enough money involved to for an FBI investigation.
Three or four people contacted the sheriff's office who had actually sent money back and better than a dozen persons had sought advice on scam letters they had received.
"A couple of weeks ago we started to get complaints from Hudson, Baldwin and the New Richmond area," He said.
Hillstead said the best policy is to follow 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," he said.
Persons who have been victimized by this scam are asked to contact their local police department of the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department at 715-381-4320.