September 19, 2014

Attorney General and 1st State Bank of Nebraska warn of Lotto scam

Attorney General Jon Bruning has joined with First State Bank Nebraska to warn of a scam.

Bruning says letters claiming to be from Publishers Clearinghouse International Lotto Division have contained fraudulent cashier’s checks from fake accounts from First State Bank Nebraska.

The letters have gone out nationwide. Similar letters and fake checks have been reported in 40 states.

First State Bank Nebraska reports its representatives have returned more than 180 counterfeit checks after they had been deposited in accounts at other banks. Representatives have also field about 200 calls from those who received the fraudulent checks.

“We at First State Bank Nebraska have spent countless hours to insure the safety of our customers and our bank from this fraudulent cashier’s check incident. We appreciate the positive response from our employees and customers as they have helped identify these fraudulent cashier’s checks and the bank has not incurred any loss to date,” said First State Bank President Jeff Krejci in a written statement released by the Attorney General’s office.

Bruning urges consumers to question any check received from unknown sources.

“Scammers will try anything to increase the credibility of their scam. Schemes using local banking institutions as a front may leave consumers less skeptical,” said Bruning in a written statement. “Regardless of where the letter is posted, or the banking information included, don’t trust cashier’s checks sent from people you don’t know. If you receive a check in the mail, use a trusted number to call the banking institution to verify its validity.”

According to the Attorney General’s office here’s how the scam works:

• Victims receive a letter claiming to be from the Publishers Clearinghouse, International Lotto Division.

• The letter appears to be stamped with “GOVT APPROVAL.”

• Inside the envelope is a cashier’s check drawn from First State Bank Nebraska.

• Recipients are told they have won the Publishers Clearinghouse grand prize.

• Winning numbers, Claim Agent name and contact information is provided.

• Recipients are told to contact the claim agent to arrange for payment of insurance, taxes and processing fees. Additionally, the letter suggests the claim agent will need the recipient’s bank account information (for winnings to be deposited).

• Letters instruct recipients to keep all transactions confidential to “avoid double or false claims.”

• Deposited checks are counterfeit and returned for non-payment – this may take several days.

Remember these tips:

• Don’t deposit checks from unknown people.

• Never wire money or send pre-paid charge cards to someone you don’t know.

• Never give or pay money to receive money.

• Protect personal information like bank account and Social Security numbers.

 The First State Bank of Nebraska says consumers concern about the scam can call the bank at 877-303-9737. Information also can be found at the bank’s website: 1fsb.com.

You also can go to the Attorney General’s Office website at ago.ne.gov or contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-727-6432.