New scam aimed at seniors hits Houston

October 29, 2012 4:11:11 PM PDT
A warning for seniors when you check your mailboxes. There is a new scam going on in Houston, aimed at duping you out of your money.

The victims receive letters in the mail with checks that appear to be real. In fact there are a pair of letters going out that both claim the same thing, that you have won big bucks, but you have to pay to get it.

A check out of the blue is great news, but this one could get you in big trouble. The letter accompanying the check explains the $38.70 is to pay for the processing fee for a $150,000 prize. Instructions tell people to deposit the check then send back $2,800 for processing and fees. The check claims to be from Halliburton, but company officials tell us they are not paying out prize money and in fact the check is a fake.

"What they want you to do is cash the check and then wire them your own personal funds," said Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau.

Russo says if you deposit a fake check and spend the money, you will be forced to pay back the funds to your bank.

"In most of these cases we have seen people pay out thousands of dollars to scammers," said Russo.

The fake check isn't the only thing in the mail. Across the country people are getting this notice, telling them they have won more than $1.5 million. However, to claim the money you have to send a check for $27.50. The company sending out the notices has no phone number and an "F" rating from the BBB.

"A lot of recipients who get something like this, they are like, 'Uh, it is $27.50, I will go ahead and pay that, it could be actually a legitimate offer.' And unfortunately once you have done that, you set yourself up for future mailings where they ask you for more and more money," Russo said.

The check and claims letter were sent to a local senior citizen who had no intention of sending off any money. Seniors we spoke with say its not uncommon for the mail box to be stuffed with similar offers.

"It's going to look like God sent money or something, but you know, you have to be smart," said Pat Hobbs.

Both the fake checks and the prize money letters are landing in mail boxes across the country right now.


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