Scam targeting child has local mother steamed

January 18, 2007 11:00 pm

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

A Crescent City mother is angry that a scam letter and check reached her child.

The letter, which states its origin as St. Thomas, Virgin Islands announces to its young recipient, 13-year-old Aspen Branch, that results of a "monthly Global Draw held in Dublin, Ireland" determined that she is one of the "lucky" winners of $50,000.

Of course the letter – itself full of misspelled words and questionable grammar – from Millenium Processing Center comes with a check made out for $2,962.30 "to help pay for your tax and administrative expenses (International Clearance fees)."

The letter goes on to say the check is drawn from winnings and that the money "SHALL" be released after it's cashed and sent back to Millenium Processing Center.

Branch is also told to "please keep this winning as confidential as possible to avoid false claims and double winners" and so on.

Scam?

Of course it's a scam, and that's why Stacy Brundin is angry. She also is worried for her older neighbors.

"What if they got it?" she said.

Brundin remembers hearing from a friend who received a similar check, deposited it and found out she couldn't get the money for 10 business days.

When she called a contact number that came with the check, the person told her friend that she had to send money sooner.

She did and found out in due time that she was out more than $1,000.

"The check was no good," Brundin said.

What's more maddening is that local officials direct people such as this mother in a generally circular path.

"I called the sheriff, who said to throw it away because it was a fraud," she said. "I called the DA's office who said take it to the sheriff."

That's when she pitched the bogus mail.

What should you do when something like this comes to your house?

If you have an Internet connection, you can contact the Attorney General's Web site. Google California Attorney General to take the fast lane in.

On the Web site is a whistleblowers' number, 800-952-5225, or you can e-mail details of what happened.

A press officer at the state attorney general's Sacramento office did not speculate as to why local Crescent City officials don't give the information to callers like Brundin.

Sheriff Dean Wilson said his staff doesn't direct people to the attorney general's office because his is the investigative body.

"We have investigated a number of these," he said

District Attorney Mike Riese could not be reached for comment.

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Avoid Being a Victim

•If an "opportunity" appears too good to be true, it probably is.

•Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.

•Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number, call the seller to see if the number is.

•Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).

•Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.

•Don't invest in anything based on appearances. Just because an individual or company has a flashy web site doesn't mean it is legitimate. Web sites can be created in just a few days. After a short period of taking money, a site can vanish without a trace.

•Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.

SOURCE: FBI