Consumers in as many as 10 states have reportedly received counterfeit checks bearing the Nationwide name. Each check has been issued in the amount of $4,500 and has been accompanied by a letter which informs the recipient that they are the winner of a $150,000 "Consumer Promotion Draw" organized for consumers who shop in major stores in the US, Canada and United Kingdom. The letter goes on to explain the $4,500 check has been issued to cover the "Non-Resident Government Tax" the consumer will have to pay to a British Tax Officer. The individuals generating the correspondence and counterfeit checks have no affiliation with Nationwide Insurance and are fraudulently using the Nationwide name.
In order to receive the $150,000 prize, recipients are told they must cash the check and then forward $3,750, by Moneygram International or via a Western Union Money Transfer, to an address located in the United Kingdom. While consumers are provided with an 1-866 number to call, they are urged to keep the matter confidential until their claim has been processed.
Consumers should be leery of "advanced fee scams" such as this as they stand to lose a great deal of money. In this particular situation, if a consumer were to cash the fraudulent check, they could find themselves owing the bank between $3,750 and $4,500.
As consumers are defrauded of millions of dollars each year, the following are tips so consumers do not find themselves the victim of a mail fraud scheme:
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Be skeptical of any correspondence offering you the opportunity to win a large sum of money in exchange for specific information.
Be leery of checks received from companies you do not do business with. The check is most likely fraudulent.
If the name of a well known company is noted on the correspondence received, contact the company to verify the legitimacy of the letter.
Be wary of sweepstakes or contests that require you to send money to a P.O. Box, a drop-box or an overseas address before you can claim your prize.