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Thursday, July 19, 2012

SFPD Warns of British Check Fraud Scam

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Just to be clear: You didn't win jack shit
  • Just to be clear: You didn't win jack shit

If you get a letter from a bogus British organization called the National Lottery, throw it out or call the police.

The cops are warning everyone about this very bizarre check forgery scam that's duping residents out of their hard-earned cash. Officer Gordon Shyy explains that victims are getting a letter from "the National Lottery" (which is, obviously, nonexistent) with a fake Chase Bank check. The letter congratulates the victim on winning $135,000.

The enclosed check is payable to the victim in the amount of $3,750, which, the letter explains, is the amount that must be withdrawn from the victim's "winnings" to pay the United Kingdom tax for nonresidents.

The check is purportedly to reimburse the recipient for this withdrawal.

The letter further confuses the victims, stating that they must shell out another $1,960 in U.S. dollars to pay this "tax." The letter instructs the "winners" to make the payment through a fictitious tax agent via Western Union money transfer.

"Elated by the $3,750 check, the potential victim may overlook the fact that the subtracted $3,750 supposedly covered the tax, as explained in the letter," Shyy points out.

Once the lottery folks get their payment,  they'll give the victim their winnings, the letter says.

However, Shyy notes that there are three possible outcomes to this stupid scam:

  • The victim tries to cash the check at a Chase bank. The teller will discover the alerts on the account, and will either tell the victim that this is a forgery or will delay the victim to notify the authorities of a crime in progress. A police officer will then either arrest the victim or detain the victim to conduct an investigation and document the incident in a police report.

  • In the second scenario, the victim deposits the check and waits for it to clear before sending the $1,960 for the "non-resident tax." The bank will eventually notify the victim that the check cannot be cashed due to insufficient funds.

  • And finally, the victim deposits the check and wires the money as instructed, using a credit card. The bank then notifies the victim of the insufficient funds and the victim still ends up paying the credit card balance because the amount cannot be charged back.
If you get one of these checks in the mail, be suspicious, and know that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Anyone with information in these cases is asked to contact the Financial Crimes Unit at
553-1521. Information can be provided anonymously by calling the anonymous tip line at 575-4444, or Text a Tip to TIP411and begin the message by typing SFPD.

Follow us on Twitter @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly
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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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