Ahoskie woman fails to fall for check scam

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 23, 2007

AHOSKIE – If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s what one local woman thought upon receiving a check in the mail for $4,500.

Bonnie Holland, of Bluefoot Road in Ahoskie, reported that a check from Diamond Financial Services was delivered to her address, accompanied by a letter.

The letter stated she was one of the declared winners of the &uot;DE-Lotto Switzerland Sweepstakes&uot;.

It included her winning ticket number and claim numbers for the prize, with instructions to call a long-distance number &uot;for further clarification&uot; before taking the check to the bank.

According to the letter, Holland would be required to send $2,600 back to them to cover the government taxes deducted from her total winnings of $250,000 before she could receive the larger prize.

&uot;How does that old saying go, if it looks to good to be true, then it really is too good to be true,&uot; Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan stated.

He continued, &uot;If you actually did enter some type of lottery or sweepstakes drawing and did win, you would be dealing with the IRS and state department of revenue in regards to having to pay any type of taxes connected with your winnings, not the firm running the lottery.&uot;

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald called the number from Holland’s letter, pretending to be her.

A man by the name of Mike Williams answered and took down the claim number given in the letter.

He then informed the caller that the check had been activated and they were to go to the bank and deposit the check.

A representative from Suntrust Bank in Rome, Georgia (the bank from which the check was allegedly drawn), stated that the account number and name on the check did not match the information they had on file for that customer’s name.

&uot;We would not honor that check here at Suntrust Bank,&uot; she stated.

Holland stated that she just wanted people to be aware of the scheme so that they knew it was phony.

&uot;I just want people to know about this so they don’t fall for it,&uot; she said.

Vaughan stated, &uot;Don’t fall for this trick. How can you qualify to win something if you never entered? It’s just a scheme to bilk you out of your hard-earned money.&uot;

Soliciting money by false means using a fake lottery is just one way for scam artists to con people.

&uot;My best advice is if you have any questions or concerns about receiving these types of offers through he mail, please contact us immediately. Do not attempt to cash those checks and do not send any money,&uot; Vaughan said.

To contact the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, call 358-7800.