Mom got a letter and a check from Publisher's Clearinghouse in the mail. Mom's a millionaire! No. there were no balloons or champagne, nor a man in a suit with a big, way over-sized check.
Let me just say, before you jump to conclusions, I teach consumer education. Mom has been the target of bogus checks before. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: It's a scam.
Mom: Probably, but it sure looks real and I've looked everything over really well.
Me: Let me see. I bet the wording is 'you might be the winner, or 'you are the winner if'.
I took the letter and looked at every word. There were no trick sentences. I looked at the check. By the way, the check was for a little over $6 grand. It was for paying taxes, hiring an accountant, and a lawyer if she wanted one. It looked authentic, except for one thing. The account name was 'something, something, Extrusions'.
Me: Huh? Why not Publishers Clearing House?
Mom: Maybe big companies like PC hire other companies to distribute their prize money.
Me: I'm gonna call this number. The number for your personal adviser.
I called. The lady spoke very clear and polite English. It wasn't a boiler room of background noises. She tells me, Mom, to go ahead and deposit the check. It's hers and she can spend it however she wants. Hmmm. She didn't ask for Mom to send her money. People do win PC. Even people in Oklahoma. Someone in Okmulgee, my home town, won this year. Maybe....
Me: Take the check to the bank. They'd know if a check's good.
Mom: Go with me.
We go to the bank. The very nice young man at the teller window just smiles when we tell him what we have. He tells Mom it's likely a fraud, but he takes it and starts check it out. Feels it, looks at it through the light, etc. "It looks good," he says, "but let me make a phone call."
There is a bank the check is from. We already knew that. There is an account the check is drawn on. We are surprised, and cautiously excited. You notice it's 'we'. My mother might have won $$$!
"Hmm," he says. "The bank says they have express instructions not to talk about this particular account. That tells me it's probably a fraudulent check, but I'll let you talk to my supervisor."
The supervisor tells us the same thing and photo copies the check. No 'void' shows up in the photocopy and that's a very big warning sign. Mom doesn't deposit the check.
Mom says it was fun to be a millionaire for as long as it lasted..