PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – A Pascagoula woman said she wants to warn people about a possible check fraud scheme by mail. She received a letter claiming she'd won thousands of dollars. But to collect, she had to deposit a check. According to the Attorney General's Office the method is called "Lottery Scam," and it could drain your bank account.
"The first paragraph in this letter leads you to believe that this letter is legitimate," Dee Fayard said.
Fayard said when she got the letter and a check out of her mailbox a few days ago she was excited because she thought she had won a huge cash prize.
"They tell you that you have won $50,000," Fayard said.
The letter came with a check for more than $4,200 and instructions to collect the rest. Unclear on just what to do, Fayard called the number on the letter for more details, but she quickly realized something didn't seem right.
"When you deposit their check and call him back, he will tell you where to mail the $399 income tax check."
Authorities say it was good Fayard followed her instinct; otherwise she would have been out nearly $400.
The Mississippi Attorney General's Office said letters like the one Fayard received usually originate from overseas or Canada, promising people big payoffs for a simple processing fee or tax.
"A lot of these crimes, a lot of these scams are based off a person's greed or a person's willingness to get something for free," Pascagoula Police Officer Shannon Broom said.
Broom said he's investigated about three or four cases like Fayard's this year.
"We see this with elderly folks, I guess because of their caring nature."
He said the best advice to avoid losing money is to ask a lot of questions.
"If you start questioning them, a lot of times they drop the scam and then they will leave you alone."
The AG's office said the best remedy is to ignore those types of emails or letters. If you have not entered into a lottery, then it is likely you have not won one. You are also urged to call the police if you continue to receive the mail.