This is a consumer advice column written by the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. It appears Thursdays in Business.
If you have received a letter that tells you that you are the winner of International Shoppers Lotto Powerball with a check enclosed for $3,875, you have in your hands an example of a fake-check scam.
Heritage Financial Group is in no way related to this. Someone took their information and is using it to try and con people out of money.
The way the con works is the letter says to contact a claims agent, Mr. Jeff Tylah-Llb. This claims agent will say you have won $125,000, but first you have to deposit the check into the bank and send them $1,875 to pay for taxes. Only then can the alleged remaining winnings be sent to you in the amount of $121,125.
The check that was sent to you is counterfeit and won't readily bounce, when you cash it. Several weeks later though, when it does bounce you will be personally obligated to pay the money back.
If you have truly won a prize, you would never be asked to pay money upfront. Taxes are paid to the IRS, and winnings are reported as income on your income tax statement.
If you have any questions about a sweepstakes letter you've received, don't hesitate to contact BBB.