After All American Clearing House made numerous attempts to reach Boise resident Leo Brown by telephone, they finally sent him a letter telling him he was a grand prize winner: $290,000.
Enclosed was a check from Ridgetop Research in the amount of $4,857.75 he was to use to pay taxes, handling and process fees.
Mr. Brown was told to keep phone, file and check numbers confidential and to call 866-785-5226 or 438-989-4518. His file number is PCH-84D-D856. He was also told call when he deposited the check. This check “must be deposited in your account only after speaking with your claims agent.”
In a veiled sort of way, Mr. Brown is told, by Gerald Webfield, CFO: “Please note that you have entered in the drawing and subsequently are obliged to receive your prize as indicated in the contract.”
The CEO for Ridgetop Reseach audibly moaned when BBB told him about the check. “Our identity was stolen,” Chip Emery says. “We’ve been getting calls like this from across the nation, and have passed the information on to law enforcement authorities.”
New York City-based Ridgetop Research is not associated with All American Clearing House, which gives an address of 87 Willow Dr., Ontario, CA N6E 1P1.
If Mr. Brown had cashed the check, he would have been told to send a portion of the money back via wire transfer to Canada to pay the taxes, and to keep the remaining amount. Once determined it was a fraudulent check, he would have had to repay the bank for the money taken, and face possible prosecution.
- If you didn’t enter a contest, sweepstakes, drawing or prize award, you can’t win. Lottery tickets are purchased, sweepstakes usually involve application paperwork, and government grant applications are thoroughly processed.
- If you don’t remember entering, you probably didn’t.
- They already have your information if you entered the contest, so application that asks for detailed personal information to retrieve the winnings is a scam.
- If you are asked to forward a portion of the money from the organization, sender or to forward money to another company to pay the taxes, shipping, fees, etc., it’s a scam
- You don’t pay to collect winnings. In legitimate cases, shipping and other fees are taken out of winnings before the prize is sent. Taxes on winnings are handled with the IRS.
- It’s a scam, if the name on the check does not match the name of the company or person the consumer is dealing with.
- Foreign lotteries are illegal in the United States.