Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 19, 2012

Lottery scam surfaces in Effingham

Ryan Ellis
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Local residents receiving letters saying they’ve won the lottery should think twice before collecting their prizes.

    Timothy Griffth of Effingham said he received a letter last week saying he had won a lottery in which he knew he had not entered.

    The enclosed letter said to take a check inclosed inside the letter and cash it before paying off the taxes for the winnings. Griffith then was to call a claim agent to collect his supposed prize.

    Griffith said that upon calling the claims agent, he was immediately asked for his phone number. Griffith said he asked how he had been entered for the lottery but the claim agents continued to ask for his phone number and nothing else. When Griffith hung up and then tried to call back, he said no one answered the phone.

    Sgt. Todd Ebbert, a detective with the Effingham Police Department said there was one easy clue that could have tipped Griffith off.

    “A good clue is they didn’t enter a lottery,” he said. “There’s so many different versions of the same scam.”

    Ebbert said he remembered times when Effingham residents received letters saying they won prizes and sent fees through Western Union to claim the prize. With this new scam on the rise, he encouraged residents not to cash any suspicious checks or send money through Western Union.

    “Western Union is almost impossible to track because you can pick it up anywhere in the world,” he said.

    Counterfeit money can be traced through methods such as examining the paper on which the money was printed or checking the ink used to print the bills, Ebbert said.

    Cash isn’t the only thing that can be checked for counterfeiting. Amy Kettleson, an assistant banking center manager at Midland States Bank said she could immediately tell the checks were fake

    As she ran her fingers up and down the top and bottom of the check, Kettleson frowned and said the fake check did not have perforations where it would have been torn from a stub.

    Kettleson said one indicator that a check may be fake is the typeset. With most checks being printed at the same time and with similar styles, unusual fonts can be a good sign that a check is counterfeit.