Victim of a possible fraudulant check from a sweepstakes winning

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Victim of a possible fraudulant check from a sweepstakes winning

I recently recieved a letter in the mail saying I won $125,000 through a online gaming or magazine subscription, with a check enclosed in the amount of $4,850. I was told to take it and deposit it into my bank account, the check was valid at the time, even the bank cashier said so. I deposited it into my checking account. They told me to call them when the funds were available and would further instruct me on how to claim the rest of my winnings. When they became available to me, I attempted to withdraw $50 from the account, the bank said the the check was fraudulant. What do I do? I did not recieve nor spend any of the money, but I want the person responsible for this to be caught so they dont do it to anyone else. Id like to seek compensation from that person to make them pay for probably doing this many times before. Can you help?

Asked on May 21, 2009 under Criminal Law, Virginia

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This is one variation on an all-to-common scam, although this is the first time I've seen this done in the mail rather than the internet.

However, there are specific laws that make it a federal offense to use the mail to commit fraud.  Get the bad check or a copy of it from your bank, and take it, with the letter you got (including the envelope), to the post office, and ask to speak to the postmaster or a postal inspector, and they will take things from there.

If you are told you have "won" a contest or lottery you never entered, or that you are the last living heir of someone you've never heard of, or that your name or address or email was picked at random and this is your lucky day -- if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly isn't true.


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