Sheriff warns of new scam

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warns of new scam

Christopher Sardelli


Authorities are sending out a warning to residents about a new check scam discovered in Lancaster County.

Deputies first learned of the scam this month after speaking with a 70-year-old man who reported receiving an unusual letter and check in the mail, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office press release.

The letter was from the “International Finance Department” in Ontario, Canada and stated that the man had won a lottery worth $200,000.

It also stated that a check was enclosed for $4,450, which would be taken out of the winnings. The letter instructed the man to “Contact your claims agent” and provided a phone number “for further instructions on how to claim your big winnings,” the release said.

The enclosed check was issued by “Hotel Nikko, Inc.” based out of San Francisco and written on a “Union Bank” check, also of San Francisco.

Deputies learned the letter is a scam used to get bank account information from victims, the release said.

“When a victim attempts to deposit a check in their bank, the check is revealed to be invalid. The check is cancelled and returned to the issuer of the check and will generally have all of the victim’s account information on the check,” the release said.

Sheriff Barry Faile warns residents that if something seems unusual or too good to be true, they should report it immediately.

“This is another example of the confusing tactics that these criminals use. When someone receives a check in the mail that appears to be valid, it is a natural response to deposit that check in their accounts,” Faile said. “However, citizens need to be reminded that when they are notified about receiving free money, they are likely being targeted for a scam. Do not give out your personal information to anyone and do not deposit checks from sources that you cannot verify.”

Anyone who is worried they may be the victim of a scam should report it to their local law enforcement agency.

For incidents within the city of Lancaster, please call the Lancaster Police Department at (803) 283-1171, (803) 283-3313, or the LPD’s anonymous tip hotline at (803) 289-6040.

For incidents that take place in the rest of the county, contact the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency line at (803) 283-4136.

◆ Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416