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Money scam reaches Ahwatukee area

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 6:49 am

Phoenix police said another money scam has reached the Ahwatukee Foothills area, this time posing as a sweepstakes winning from Reader’s Digest.

Last month an Ahwatukee resident received a letter and check in the mail claiming to be from Reader’s Digest, according to Phoenix police officer Benjamin Morris.

The scam claimed to be a sweepstakes drawing in which the receiver had won about $500,000 in the drawing pool. The scam also included a check, albeit fake, that the receiver could take down to the bank and deposit, Morris said in an email.

The incident was brought to Morris’ attention, and it was not known whether the Ahwatukee resident, who was not available to comment, attempted to deposit the check.

Typically upon deposit, the bank will take the check on site and see that it is fake, which results in a call to the police, or the check will actually clear and then bounce the next day, Morris added.

“The scammers hope the check will clear and that you will send them your information to send you the rest of the prize money,” he said.

“That way by the time the check bounces; they have stolen your identity and possibly cleared out your account.”

A common thread among mail or check scams are phrases including “keep this confidential” and “respond quickly.”

This scam can also be tricky because official logos, graphics, addresses and names are used to make it seem legitimate.

Another common scam Morris has seen in the area is a letter advising the victim that they have won a large cash prize, which is “waiting to be mailed out.”

The victim is told to send $20 in processing fees to have the check sent to them.

“This scam will only lose you the $20, unless you use your credit card to pay, at which point they will charge a much greater amount to the card,” Morris said.

According to Attorney General Tom Horne’s office, these kinds of mail check scams are among the top 10 most popular for consumer scams.

If you think you have received a mail check scam, the Attorney General’s Office recommends using caution if cashing or depositing a cashier’s check from an unknown source.

More often than not, the consumer is responsible for deposited checks. When a check bounces, the bank deducts the amount originally credited to the account, according to the Attorney General’s Red Flags and Protection Tips.

“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” Morris said.

• Diana Martinez is freelancing for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at Follow on Twitter @_dianamartinez.

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