Bronson warns consumers about bogus check scam
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is warning consumers about a bogus letter circulating in Florida and across the United States telling people they have won money and including a check in the mailing.
The letter has a check enclosed for $985 and instructions on how to claim a lump sum payout of an $8,000 prize award. The letter also says a tax payment of $810 is required before the lump sum payment can be sent to the recipient. Recipients are cashing the checks to pay the tax and when the checks are discovered to be counterfeit several days later, consumers are held liable by the banks for the money. By then, the consumers have already wired the money to the scam artists.
The “Award Claim Notification” letter has letterhead from a legitimate marketing company, Geisheker Group out of Green Bay, Wis., but with erroneous contact information. Geisheker Group has been the victim of identity theft and has posted a warning on its website about the scam. Company officials indicate they have been fielding hundreds of calls about the letter. The counterfeit checks have the name of a legitimate bank and appear to be real.
The letter says the consumer has a winning ticket for a Consumer Rewards Program and even lists the ticket number. A contact name and number is included in the letter but the people answering are actually part of the scam.
“We have seen different versions of this bogus check scam,” Bronson said. “The bottom line is if you receive a letter indicating you have won money from some unknown entity and there is a check included, you should be very suspicious. The scam artists often tell consumers they have to pay taxes on the winnings and that is how they are making money off the scams.”
Consumers who have received the letter can file a complaint with the Department’s Division of Consumer Services at www.800helpfla.com. To find out more about the marketing company’s warning, log onto www.geisheker.com.